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Letters to the Editor

In defense of St. Rachel

| Friday, May 14, 2004

While it's hard to take seriously any article that uses the phrases "left-liberal-environmental-wacko media" and "enviro-weenies," Bill Steigerwald's column ("Are the 'greens' killing blacks?" April 25) requires a response to his attack on, as he put it, "Pittsburgh's great junk scientist, Rachel Carson."

The first of many problems with Steigerwald's ranting column is his illogical conclusion that somehow it is environmentalists' fault that millions of people are dying from malaria every year. He feeds into an industry and right-wing myth that calls environmental actions to limit pesticide usage a hysterical, dangerous response that will halt all usage and leave us awash in mosquitos and other insects, weeds and fungi.

In fact, most environmentalists (and even Carson herself) call only for sane pesticide policies. Most environmentalists support the limited use of DDT where it is proven to have a major public health benefit. It is, as Steigerwald points out and then seems to forget later in his column, the foreign-aid agencies that dictate DDT policy, not environmental groups.

Carson's 1962 book, "Silent Spring," warned a mostly unknowing public of the very real dangers of the widespread, unchecked overuse of pesticides. These dangers include not only killing birds, but also getting into the food chain, water and air, and posing a serious health hazard for any living, breathing organism -- including humans.

Fiona Fisher and Michael Shriberg Springdale The writers are board members of the Rachel Carson Homestead Association.

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