Summer is the season of insects and therefore, the season of insect repellant.
Humans have always battled bugs, but James McWilliams says chemical insecticides came into the picture by accident. McWilliams is a fellow in the Agrarian Studies Program at Yale University and an associate professor of history at Texas State University. His new book is "American Pests: The Losing War on Insects from Colonial Times to DDT" and he was one of the featured speakers at the 2008 Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado. On this week's episode of Word for Word, James McWilliams turns the spotlight on our ongoing battle with bugs.
"By about 1910, the standard method for controlling insects was to spray kerosene over open cities--to spray kerosene over any open bodies of water that could potentially breed mosquitoes. Now, you sort of sit there and think, was nobody opposing this? Was nobody saying maybe this wasn't such a good idea?"We'd like to hear from you. We may not be using kerosene to control insects anymore, but some would argue that the pesticides we do use are equally harmful to our health and our environment. McWilliams talks about more natural methods farmers used to use to protect their crops from bugs--would it be possible to reintegrate these methods into our modern day agriculture system? Should we continue to fight pests as though it's possible to win this "war," or do we need to change our ways of insect control? Who should regulate this?
Word for Word