‘Yanqui Cotton Patch’: American Development Assistance and DDT in Nicaragua, 1945-1980


Project Summary

This project is hosted by: Institute of Latin American Studies

Research interests:
History, Modern History
Regions:
North America, North America, South America, South America
Project period:
09-Jan-2016 - 31-Aug-2017
Project categories:
Research project
Project summary:

 Between 1945 and 1980 US officials promoted DDT as a means to spark a ‘green
revolution’ in developing countries. All over the world this ‘excellent powder’ was
used to boost crop production and combat malaria. In 1962 Rachel Carson’s book
Silent Spring led to widespread concern about the chemical, and DDT was
banned in the United States in 1972. However, USAID continued to promote DDT
overseas. In Nicaragua, thanks to strong links between successive US
governments and the ruling Somoza dynasty (1936-1979), the effects of US policy
were particularly pronounced: in 1980 a study of human tissue samples revealed
that Nicaragua had the highest rates of DDT ingestion in the world. Recent
scholarship on the green revolution has moved away from a preoccupation with
US policy alone, to stress the interaction between US policymakers and
stakeholders in developing countries. This research contributes to that trend,
drawing on extensive archival research in both the US and Nicaragua to provide
the first ever history of the link between US policy and unparalleled levels of DDT
use in Nicaragua.


Management Details

Lead researcher & project contact:

Name Position Institute Organisation Contact
Dr Hilary Francis Fellow Institute of Latin American Studies SAS hilary.francis@sas.ac.uk