Dr. Robert van den Bosch

If the lucrative pesticide industry disliked Dr. Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, they were enraged and threatened by Dr. Robert van den Bosch, professor of entomology and chairman of the Division of Biological Control at the University of California at Berkeley. He worked to protect the public.

Robert van den Bosch

Pesticide ConspiracyDr. van den Bosch, a most outspoken proponent of integrated, ecologically sound insect control, pulled no punches in his landmark book, The Pesticide Conspiracy. In it, he exposed the fact- long known to insiders in the pest control business- that the indiscriminate use of such chemical insecticides is a disaster.

He cited the tremendous health burdens to farm workers. Paul Erlich, his friend and fellow ecologist said, “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.” This enraged the big money chemical companies, industry and government figures who made him the target of both open and clandestine attacks.  

Van den Bosch’s passionate book became a classic. Ecology called it descriptive of “the ultimate social disaster of: evolving pesticide-resistant insects, the destruction of their natural predators and parasites, emergent populations of new insect pests, downstream water pollution, atmospheric pollution, the ‘accidental’ killing of wildlife and people, and the bankruptcies of indigenous and small farmers.”

The Pesticide Conspiracy was published in 1978.  Van den Bosch died suddenly of a heart attack in November of that year. His landmark book remains popular in reprint.

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