"Kõik Suures Keemias peituvad võimalused polnud kaugeltki kasutatud..." Rahvamajanduse kemiseerimisest DDT keelustamiseni

"Not all options of Great Chemistry have been implemented." Soviet campaigns to improve the chemical industry and the rise and fall of DDT


  • Ken Kalling UT Faculty of Medicine, Junior Lecturer in Medical History




In 1958 and 1963 the Communist Party of the USSR launched two
campaigns that aimed to improve the Soviet chemical industry. Particularly there was an ambition to increase the production of chemicals meant for agriculture (fertilizers, pesticides). Being typical
Soviet campaigns, they involved a great deal of propaganda, but they
also engaged academic institutions. At this point it has to be admitted that the chemistry department at the University of Tartu was
linked with this to a rather modest degree. In Estonia it was the
Tallinn Polytechnical Institute and the institutes of the Academy of
Sciences which were mainly involved in carrying out the tasks of the
An important aspect of the campaign was that the state acknowledged the threats the chemical industry and the use of chemicals in agriculture could inflict on the environment. As a result
two parallel developments can be witnessed in Estonia in the 1960s:
on the one hand, an increase in the use of pesticides; on the other,
growing concern about chemical pollution in the water, air and soil.
The state launched environmental programs, which among others
included limitations on the use of DDT. In Estonia the peak use of
this insecticide was in 1965. From 1968 on, the same year that Rachel
Carson’s Silent Spring appeared in Estonian, the large-scale utilization of DDT basically ended in Estonia.


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