When I stumbled on this ad for “Pennsalt Chemicals” from 1947, I thought it was a parody. A housewife, farm animals, food, and a dog, all dancing and singing the praises of DDT. DDT is now illegal. Back in the day it was used for everything from agricultural sprays to household pesticides. DDT is depicted as the answer to all the world’s problems in this fun-filled, full-page, full-color ad.
The U.S. was just coming off a high of its own, having defeated (with the Allies) the Axis power in WWII just a couple years earlier. It was time for this country to innovate and support the just blossoming baby boom. What better way to do that, than to take hazardous materials and introduce them into our daily lives?
America was booming with opportunity and DDT was (as the ad claims):
- Good for fruits – Making them bigger and free from worms! Who doesn’t want a bigger apple?
- Good for steers – They’ll grow bigger cows because of DDT. Bigger, like in Texas.
- Good for homes – That’s right, sprinkle some DDT in your kid’s nursery to chase away those pests!
- Good for dairies – Now that we’re about to go big with this milk thing, gotta figure out how to make more milk!
- Good for row crops – We’re pushing out the ‘taters in numbers never seen before
- Good for industry – Pennsalt Products is going to make industry in America strong!
Does all of this sound familiar? Monsanto, one of the companies that originally manufactured DDT, is the target of much debate and protest today for similar actions. This ad is 66 years old. Like Pennsalt, Monsanto is placing its genetically modified products on store shelves before researchers have a total understanding of their scientific impact. The cycle continues.
Since then, DDT has been shown to damage the nervous, immune, endocrine, and neurological systems, not to mention its devastating influence on the natural environment. DDT was being introduced to our nation’s foods without our approval as far back as the 1940’s. So, to those of you standing up against Monsanto and thinking that GMOs and food science and tampering with what you eat is a new thing — think again. It’s as old as your mother.
So, what can you do? Always try to buy organic (although even that is also no guarantee), local, and …