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Rachel Carson Week – Her Legacy

News Icon 18/04/2014

A year ago, I was on the last leg of writing Farmageddon, travelling from Rachel Carson’s childhood home to the banks of the world-renowned Chesapeake Bay.

I was keen to learn what inspired Carson to take such a keen interest in the countryside. I also wanted to find out her legacy.

I stood on the banks of Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States and an area of stunning natural beauty.

I spoke with leading figures who told me how the bay is under threat from what, in Carson’s day, would have seemed an unlikely source – chickens. Yet, the same phenomena that gave rise to a countryside covered in chemical pesticides also brought about chicken farming on a massive scale.

Today, there are now nearly as many chickens in the three States surrounding Chesapeake Bay as there was across the entire USA sixty years ago. That’s an awful lot of birds in one area.

I took to the air and water to see things for myself. I talked with some of the valiant band of waterkeepers fighting to preserve this wonderful place. I strapped into a four-seater chopper thanks to the generosity of Lighthawk who kindly donated the flight.

You can see some of what I discovered in the last of ourRachel Carson trilogy of films.

In 1962, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring carried an introduction by Lord Shackleton, a member of the UK House of Lords, who wrote:

“We in Britain have not yet been exposed to the same intensity of attack as in America, but here too there is a grim side to the story.”

Things were bad in Britain, but worse in America. The US had given birth to techniques that treated the countryside like an industrial site, with unforeseen but devastating consequences.

Half a century on, history is repeating itself; mega-farms using the latest industrial practices pioneered in the US and now being exported to Britain and the rest of Europe and beyond. It seems we are being driven closer to Farmageddon.

Thanks to the legacy of Rachel Carson, we have a gathering movement to help change things before it’s too late.

To get your copy of Farmageddon: the true cost of cheap meat, click here


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