From The Toxic Consumer (Karen Ashton and Elizabeth Salter Green, 2008)

“The first synthetic chemicals were created in the late 1800s, but it wasn’t until after World War II that the industry really took off. Chemists previously working on chemical weapons for combat use realized that many of the deadly poisons they had been concocting had a useful peacetime role: to wage agricultural war against the various pests and insects that damage crops. Shortly after that came the realization that other synthesized chemicals of similar structure could be employed, at great profit, to “improve” our consumer products and way of life.

“This from DuPont in the 1950s:

“Better things through better living … through chemistry”

… thereby heralding the coming of age of nonstick, easy-clean, disposable living. But, as most of us know from experience, there is no such thing as a free lunch. There’s nearly always a downside when things come too easily–and this is one part of the story of man-made chemical production at the turn of the twenty-first century. Synthetic chemicals are largely used in consumer products to make things more attractive, easier to use, longer lasting, smoother gliding, and so on. But how enthusiastic would the average consumer be about a product if it also offered a significant dose of toxicity as part of its “new-and-improved” formula?

“As industry designed chemicals to make our lives better (and their profit margins greater), they failed to create tests to detect their effects in the environment or to ascertain what they would do to us or to our babies in the womb. In the meantime the chemicals were gradually invading every aquatic and terrestrial system in the world. It took us another forty years, until 1990, to finally face up to the reality that the same chemicals that had purported to improve our lives were also undermining the very fabric of what makes it possible for animals and humans to reproduce.”

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