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Environmental Defense Fund
History and Background

Origin & History

Four decades ago, Environmental Defense helped launch the modern environmental era by winning a ban on DDT, the pesticide Rachel Carson warns about in Silent Spring. DDT causes eggshells to thin and break, threatening the survival of magnificent birds like the osprey, bald eagle and peregrine falcon. It is also a persistent poison that works its way up the food chain, thus endangering humans as well. The fledgling effort by a handful of scientists on Long Island to halt the use of DDT was a remarkable demonstration of how individuals can bring about lasting change. The group incorporated as the Environmental Defense Fund in 1967.

Our founders tried a novel approach, common today but unheard of in the late 1960s: The scientists teamed up with a lawyer and went to court on behalf of the environment. Their efforts led to a nationwide ban on DDT and the birth of modern environmental law. The osprey has since made a dramatic recovery, and the bald eagle and peregrine falcon have been removed from the endangered species list.

Soon we were hiring economists, engineers and eventually computer analysts to find ways to help the environment without harming the economy. In the process, Environmental Defense became one of America''s most influential environmental advocacy groups, now with over 500,000 members and more Ph.D. scientists and economists on staff than any similar organization.

 From the beginning, we made a commitment not only to oppose ill-conceived policies, but also to propose alternatives. We still go to court when necessary, but increasingly we work directly with business, government and community groups, forging solutions that make sense for all.

Mission Statement

Environmental Defense is a leading national nonprofit organization representing more than 500,000 members. Since 1967, we have linked science, economics and law to create innovative, equitable and cost-effective solutions to society''s most urgent environmental problems.

Environmental Defense is dedicated to protecting the environmental rights of all people, including future generations. Among these rights are access to clean air and water, healthy and nourishing food, and flourishing ecosystems.

Guided by science, Environmental Defense evaluates environmental problems and works to create and advocate solutions that win lasting political, economic and social support because they are nonpartisan, cost-efficient and fair.

Environmental Defense believes that a sustainable environment will require economic and social systems that are equitable and just. We affirm our commitment to the environmental rights of the poor and people of color.

As an American organization, Environmental Defense will always pay special attention to American environmental problems and to America''s role in both causing and solving global environmental problems.


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