Synopses & Reviews
Will Allen is an organic farming visionary. A true activist, entrepreneur, and expert, he understands the complexities of farming first hand and the impact that commercialization has had.
In the early nineteenth century as the American population grew rapidly, demands on crop output increased. Seeing an opportunity to play upon fears from market demand, chemical companies declared war on the vile, profit-sucking, output-wreaking, arch-nemesis of the average American farmer - bugs. With precision, pesticide manufacturers delivered a "shock and awe" media campaign, that can only be paralleled to the current blitzkrieg from today's pharmaceutical companies. Bugs were the threat to the American dream - and there was a cure available to every farmer available in spray, granule, dust, or systemic form that could be applied to your crops.
Will Allen's War on Bugs reveals how advertisers, editors, scientists, large scale farmers, government agencies, and even Dr. Seuss, colluded to convince farmers to use deadly chemicals, hormones, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in an effort to pad their wallets and control the American farm enterprise.
Utilizing dozens of original advertisements and promotions to illustrate the story, Allen details how consumers and activists have struggled against toxic food. Echoing the warnings of seminal works on the topic like, The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, 100,000 Guinea Pigs by Arthur Kallet and F.J. Schlink, and Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, The War on Bugs shouts that the time to stop poisoning our food, water, air, and ourselves is now!
"Will Allen exposes how at every turn the government and the chemical industry steered us toward synthetic and poisonous solutions to the challenges of farming, drawing upon a unique combination of scientific knowledge about their devastating effects on the environment and a rich understanding of the organic approach--from doing it, as a farmer, in the fields."
--Mark Schapiro, editorial director of the Center for Investigative Reporting and author, Exposed
"In 1984, when the gas leak from Union Carbide's pesticide plant in Bhopal killed thousands, I asked myself why agriculture had become like war. In the War on Bugs, Will Allen tells us why. Whether you care about the bugs, or the food you grow or eat, this is a book you must read. It will help us all move from violent agriculture to a non-violent agriculture which protects all life and our health."
--Dr. Vandana Shiva, director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy and author of Stolen Harvest
"Because of Will Allen, and other organic farmers and advocates like him, we now can choose to eat foods without industrial chemicals, wear clothes made from cotton grown without pesticides, and look again at farms-at least the organic ones-as places of natural harmony, not as industrial wastelands. In The War on Bugs, Allen documents how chemical weapons manufacturers, among others, convinced farmers to spray their toxic wastes on our soil, devastating our land and our health. You won't believe what they didn't teach you in school. The produce aisle will never look the same to you again."
--John Passacantando, Executive Director, Greenpeace USA
"The War on Bugs is must reading for organic consumers and every concerned citizen. Will Allen tells us the incredible story, in clear but rousing language, of how corporations, out-of-control scientists, and indentured government have carried out a literal 100 Year War against organic and sustainable agriculture and family farms, and provides inspiration for the organic food and farming revolution which is already underway."
--Ronnie Cummins, National Director, Organic Consumers Association
"I have often wondered why independent-minded farmers follow the recommendations of chemical and GMO seed salesmen. Will Allen takes us through the history of chemical agriculture in the US, tracing the collusion among chemical companies, university researchers and the media to convince farmers that chemicals are 'progressive,' and absolutely necessary to the success of their farms."
--Elizabeth Henderson, author, Sharing the Harvest
"In classical Indian music the lineage and intellectual approach of master and disciples is known as a gharana. Rachel Carson's 100th anniversary provoked an enormous attack on her from the pesticide-reactionary complex, shamelessly misrepresenting both her work and its consequences, and quite literally calling her a mass murderer responsible for the resurgence of malaria. Will Allen is a worthy student of Carson's gharana, and in telling the history of earlier such assaults from the pesticide complex, he shows us that her spirit and art are alive, well--and still badly needed."
--Carl Pope, Executive Director, Sierra Club
About the Author
Will Allen grew up on a small farm in southern California and served in the Marine Corps between the Korean and Vietnam wars. He received a PhD in Anthropology (focused on Peruvian tropical forest agriculture) and taught at U-Ill and UC-Santa Barbara before being fired and jailed for a year for civil rights and antiwar activism. He returned to farming and farm labor full-time in 1972 and has been farming organically ever since, in Oregon, California, and Vermont, where he now co-manages Cedar Circle Farm. He founded the Sustainable Cotton Project and is a board member of the Organic Consumers Association, Rural Vermont, and is a co-chair of Farms Not Arms.
Table of Contents
1. The Roots of Farming in the Americas
2. America's First Farm Revitalization Movement
3. The Birth of the Rural Journals
4. Guano and the Birth of the Rural-Industrial Mouthpiece
5. Liebig and the Industrialists
6. The Fertilizer Merchants
7. The Medical Ancestry of Pesticides
8. Ratcatchers, Quacks, and Early Pest Control in America
9. The Populist Farmers' Movement
10. Paint Pigments and Other Lethal Poisons
11. Arsenic Regulation, the FDA, and Other Regulatory Hoaxes
12. The First Advertised War on the Farms
13. Populist Farmers, the Red Scare, and the Origin of Modern Organics
14. Pesticide Spray Devices, Household Poisons, and Dr. Seuss
15. Medical Heroes, War Heroes, and More Regulation Struggles
16. The Pesticides from the 1930s
17. Bombs and Fertilizers
18. War Toys
19. Animal Testing and the Pharmaceutical Farm
20. DDT and Other Second-Generation Pesticides under Attack
21. Twenty-First Century Populism
22. Designer Genes: A Leap of Faith
23. 160 Years of Poisonous Advertising
24. Who Invited These Chemicals to Dinner? A Leap of Hope