BBC Bias is arguably the oldest story in the book, yet it still has the capacity to astonish. This morning in Brussels I was listening to the BBC World Service at some outrageously early hour, when I hear a retrospective review of Rachel Carson’s famous book “Silent Spring”. I’m not sure why they’re addressing it now, 48 years after publication and 46 years after the author’s death — perhaps the half-centenary would have been more appropriate. But there it was.
“Silent Spring” was the book that kick-started the environmental movement, and demonised DDT. So of course the BBC treated it like a sacred text. It could have been the Bible (well No, perhaps — the BBC would not have been so sycophantic with the Bible), or the Hindu Vedas. The whole extended piece was suffused with a rosy glow of approbation. There was a touching interview with her nephew and adopted son. Not word of criticism, nor a hint of balance.
There was no mention of the literally millions of African children, and others, who have died as a direct result of Carson’s reckless and misjudged alarmism. We think with horror of the great genocides of history, and we forget that the deaths consequent on Carson’s book (however unintended and unanticipated) were on the same order of magnitude. By securing a global ban on DDT, Carson denied the world what was then (and may still be) our most effective weapon against the main malarial vector, the Anopheles mosquito.
It is true that DDT was probably over-used in the sixties, though the risks were greatly exaggerated. But used to spray homes, bedrooms and mosquito nets, the benefits of DDT hugely outweigh any risks, and potentially save millions of lives.
The EU is also protecting Carson’s legacy. African countries know that if they use DDT, even if only for personal protection not crop spraying, they risk severe problems in importing their produce to the EU (as if the protectionist CAP were not barrier enough). This is a deliberate EU policy which stands in the way of malaria eradication.
The BBC’s knee-jerk support for wet, fuzzy, liberal-leftist and environmental causes is of course legendary, but this programme was egregious even by the BBC’s low standards.
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