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The DDT War

Carol A. Yannacone completed the work started by Rachel Carson with Silent Spring in 1962; effectively won the DDT war; saved the osprey, peregrine and eagles from extinction; and launched the Environmental Movement in 1966 with her groundbreaking lawsuit against the use of DDT in Suffolk County, New York in 1966 (Yannacone v. Dennison) . By putting the chemical 1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis (p-chlorophenyl) ethane—DDT itself— on trial, for the first time the American people and, through the mass media, the rest of the world began to understand the unintended consequences resulting from widespread indiscriminate use of broad spectrum, persistent chemical biocides and their effects upon non-target organisms. For the first time in a courtroom, testimony was presented about the way persistent chlorinated hydrocarbon chemicals such as DDT accumulated in the environment and magnified upward throughout the food chains of every complex foodweb and eventually build up in the lipid (fatty) tissue of human beings and the other top predators such as birds of prey, game fish, and marine mammals.

On to Madison, Wisconsin

The decisive battle in the DDT war began with a hearing instigated by the indomitable “Prairie Lady,” Lorrie Otto, to have DDT declared an “environmental pollutant” by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The hearings opened in the Wisconsin State Capital Chamber on December 2, 1968.