fifty years ago November 9, 1971 Archives

From the Archives (November 9, 1971): Borlaug defends use of DDT

Dr. Norman Borlaug, U.S. winner of the Nobel Peace Prize last year for his work in developing high-yield cereals, to-day [Rome, November 8] denounced “hysterical environmentalists” for attempting to block the use of chemicals such as D.D.T. in agriculture. In a lecture at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation here, Dr. Borlaug warned that fertlisers and chemicals like D.D.T. were vital for adequate food production. “If agriculture is denied their use because of unwise legislation that is now being promoted by a powerful group of hysterical lobbyists, who are provoking fear by predicting doom for the world through chemical poisoning, then the world will be doomed not by chemical poisoning but by starvation,” he said. Dr. Borlaug’s 18,000-word lecture at the opening meeting of the FAO’s 16th Governing Conference was expected to initiate a major battle in the organisation over the use of D.D.T., FAO sources said. Opposition to his views may come on Tuesday when Dr. Sicco Mansholt of Holland, chief architect of the European Common Market’s agricultural policies, is expected to call for a phasing out of D.D.T. and its replacement by pesticides which do less damage to the environment. Referring to the so-called “Green Revolution” in agriculture for which he won his Nobel Prize, Dr. Borlaug said the use of heavy doses of fertilisers played an important part in creating the high-yielding cereals which had raised hopes of solving the world’s food problem.


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