Pollution, Politics, and Vultures

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Science  08 Feb 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6120, pp. 653-654
DOI: 10.1126/science.1234193

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Fifty years after the publication of Rachel Carson's groundbreaking book Silent Spring, environmental pollutants, whose impacts are hard to diagnose and harder still to control, continue to cause grave damage to nontarget organisms. The range of substances of concern has expanded since Carson's day from nutrients, pesticides, and heavy metals and now includes pharmaceuticals. Although drug pollution problems have been particularly difficult to address (1), recent developments in south Asia offer some positive news on one of the best-known examples. Scientists and politicians are at last making progress in reversing the accidental but catastrophic poisoning of the region's vultures by a widespread veterinary drug.