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Environment and History

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Environment and History

Pesticides and the British Environment: An Agricultural Perspective

John Sheail

Environment and History 19 (2013): 87-108. doi: 10.3197/096734013X13528328439117

Pesticides formed an essential part of the post-war ‘chemical revolution’ in British farming. Advantage is taken of surviving files of the Ministry of Agriculture to extend what might otherwise be learned from the archives of the nature-conservation bodies in reconstructing historically the course and significance of moves to protect the environment from the side-effects of such pesticides. The files reveal how, from the very first reports of the unintended impacts upon horticultural crops, the manufacturers and users of such products were required to heed the consequences for other user-interests in the countryside. However circumstantial the environmental evidence might be, such impacts on game and wild-animal life warned of a potential risk of the more-persistent pesticide residues to human health itself.

KEYWORDS: Agricultural productivity, industrial research, nature conservation, pesticides, pest infestation

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