Syntheticising Scandinavia: The Introduction of Synthetic Pesticides to Scandinavian Gardens, 1945-1952

May-Brith Ohman Nielsen 1
  • 1 University of Agder, , Norway


This study examines the introduction of prescriptive pesticide technologies into Scandinavian family gardens. It analyses pesticide propaganda and plant protection experts’ advice and instructions on the use of pesticides directed at amateur, home gardeners in Norway, Sweden and Denmark in the years between 1945 and 1952, the period when the new generation of synthetic pesticides was introduced in Scandinavia, and eagerly advocated by the leading experts of plant protection science. The sources investigated are gardening magazines and their special issues on garden instruction and the use of chemicals through the seasons, edited, published and distributed to a wide readership by national gardening associations. The study shows how the gardening associations in Scandinavia and their popular gardening magazines were major pushers of extensive pesticide spraying practices, with supporting epistemic logic, onto the numerous family gardeners of Scandinavia. Through these gardening associations both the state plant protection authorities and their scientific expertise and also the pesticide companies reached wide groups of citizens, across diverse professions, occupations and ways of life. This served to normalise the use of powerful poisons in small gardens and small-scale food production.

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