DDT or Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane is the first modern pesticide and is arguably the best known organic pesticide. It was developed early in World War II, and initially used with great effect to combat mosquitoes spreading malaria, typhus, and other insect-borne human diseases among both military and civilian populations, and as an agricultural insecticide. The Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Müller of Geigy Pharmaceutical in Switzerland was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1948 "for his discovery of the high efficiency of DDT as a contact poison against several arthropods."
In 1962, American biologist Rachel Carson published the book Silent Spring, which alleged that DDT caused cancer and harmed bird reproduction by thinning egg shells. This followed the principles of biological magnification, killing higher level organisms like the birds. The book resulted in a large public outcry which eventually led to the insecticide being banned for agricultural use in the USA, and was one of the signature events in the birth of the environmental movement. DDT was subsequently banned for agricultural use worldwide, but its use in disease vector control continues to this day in some parts of the world.
"DDT." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 1 Mar 2007, 19:59 UTC.
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