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Rachel Carson Syndrome: Jumping to Pesticide Conclusions in the Global Frog Crisis

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Publication Date: January 2005

Publisher(s): Hudson Institute

Author(s): Alex A. Avery

Topic: Environment (Ecology)


For years some ecologists have been convinced that pesticides are contributing to a decline in amphibian species around the globe. From an apparent epidemic of deformed frogs in Minnesota to the near disappearance of yellow-legged frogs from California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, pesticides have been considered prime suspects. This suspicion is no doubt rooted in the belief by the ecological community that the agricultural pesticide DDT was responsible for a serious decline of raptor bird populations in North America after WWII—a theory popularized by Rachel Carson’s 1962 bestselling book, Silent Spring. Over the past decade, tens of millions of dollars have been spent looking for the offending chemical or chemicals involved in the amphibian declines. Yet time after time, no evidence has been found that pesticides are involved. Four high-profile case studies show how scant the evidence against pesticides is, as well as the deep bias of the ecological research community.


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