Against the Grain

DDT’s Toxic Reach

The fortunes of DDT, the synthetic pesticide which infamously devastated bird populations in the United States, rose and fell during the 20th century, and rose again in the 21st century, driven by a campaign by Big Tobacco to sew uncertainty about what can be known. Historian of medicine Elena Conis discusses the trajectory and afterlife of DDT, used to cast doubt on scientific evidence and undermine the regulation of private corporations and markets.


Elena Conis, How to Sell a Poison: The Rise, Fall, and Toxic Return of DDT Bold Type Books, 2022

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