Pesticides, pollution and the UK's Silent Spring, 1963-64 : Poison in the garden of England
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Despite being characterized as ‘one of the worst agricultural accidents in Britain in the 1960s’, the ‘Smarden incident’ has never been subjected to a complete historical analysis. In 1963, a toxic waste spill in Kent coincided with the publication of the British edition of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. This essay argues that these events combined to ‘galvanize’ nascent toxic and environmental consciousness. A seemingly parochial toxic waste incident became part of a national phenomenon. The Smarden incident was considered to be indicative of the toxic hazards, which were borne of technocracy. It highlighted the inadequacies of existent concepts and practices for dealing with such hazards. As such, it was part of the fracturing of the consensus of progress: it made disagreements in expertise publicly visible. By the completion of the episode, ten different governmental ministries were involved. Douglas Good, a local veterinary surgeon, helped to effect the ‘reception’ of Silent Spring in the UK by telling the ‘Smarden story’ through local and national media and through the publications of anti-statist organizations.
Clark , J F M 2017 , ' Pesticides, pollution and the UK's Silent Spring, 1963-64 : Poison in the garden of England ' Notes and Records of the Royal Society , vol 71 , no. 3 , pp. 297-327 . DOI: 10.1098/rsnr.2016.0040
Notes and Records of the Royal Society
Copyright © 2017, the Author. Published by the Royal Society. This work is made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at http://rsnr.royalsocietypublishing.org/ https://doi.org/10.1098/rsnr.2016.0040
Funding for much of the research for this essay was obtained from a Carnegie Trust Research Grant.
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