Robert Van Den Bosch: Stop the Pesticide Conspiracy

In this interview conducted shortly before his death from a heart attack, Dr. Robert Van Den Bosch discussed the dangers posed by the chemical industry's control of agriculture as outlined in his book The Pesticide Conspiracy, and advocated for integrated pest management.


| July/August 1979



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In his book The Pesticide Conspiracy, the late entomologist Dr. Robert Van Den Bosch warned of the ecological dangers that overuse of pesticides would cause and advocated integrated pest management strategies.


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Dr. Robert van den Bosch—professor of entomology, chairman of the Division of Biological Control at the University of California at Berkeley, and one of the world's most outspoken proponents of integrated pest management—died suddenly of a heart attack on November 19,1978. 

The following conversation—which was edited from a discussion between Dr. van den Bosch and Robert Wuliger—is the result of the last interview granted by the controversial entomologist before his death. MOTHER EARTH NEWS is proud to publish it and proud, also, to turn the remainder of this introduction over to Robert van den Bosch's friend and compatriot in the struggle to protect our environment, Paul Ehrlich.   


Members of the incredibly lucrative pesticide industry, their cronies in the United States Department of Agriculture, their bought-and-paid-for entomologists and toxicologists, and the men and women at the bottom of the insecticide pyramid who make their living promoting the broadcast use of pesticides, none of these people liked Dr. Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring, one bit. It is likely that they will be even more disturbed by what Robert van den Bosch has to say here and in his book, The Pesticide Conspiracy, because Van exposes the fact—long known to insiders in the pest control business—that the indiscriminate use of such chemical insecticides is a disaster for all but those who sell and promote them.  

Today's pesticide methods will not control insects in the long run, and often do not in the short run. Instead, such a system puts a heavy health burden upon farm workers and others, and assaults the ecosystems of our planet which supply indispensable free benefits to all human beings.  

Professor van den Bosch was able to lay out the story of the stupidity, venality, and corruption of the pest control industry as only an insider could. His loss will not only be felt deeply by his friends and fellow eco-activists, but by the public that he worked to protect as well.—Paul Ehrlich.  


PLOWBOY: Dr. van den Bosch, I'd like to begin by reading a number of statements that have been made about one particular person: "He tells half-truths." "He's a scientific fraud, a disgrace to the university." "He's a charlatan." "We suggest that the public look into his background and find the reasons for his tirades against the free enterprise system."

Who do you suppose this reprehensible individual might be?

VAN DEN BOSCH: Well, I know that the quotes all refer to me. They are merely a few of the many "endearments" that have been directed my way as a result of my environmental activism by agribusiness trade magazine editors, other scientists in my field, and even some of my University of California associates.

PLOWBOY: Tell me a bit about the background of the man who inspired such vicious attacks.





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