By Mark Bittman
How quickly we forget.
After the publication of “Silent Spring,” 50 years ago, we (scientists, environmental and health advocates, birdwatchers, citizens) managed to curb the use of pesticides and our exposure to them — only to see their application grow and grow to the point where American agriculture uses more of them than ever before.
And the threat is more acute than ever. While Rachel Carson focused on their effect on “nature,” it’s become obvious that farmworkers need protection from direct exposure while applying chemicals to crops. Less well known are the recent studies showing that routine, casual, continuing — what you might call chronic — exposure to pesticides is damaging not only to flora but to all creatures, including the one that habitually considers itself above it all: us.