Arthur Galston

Wartime Botanist

On this day in 1943, botanist Arthur Galston realizes that excessive use of a plant growth hormone causes catastrophic defoliation.

Galston recognized that the effects of using the hormone could be harmful to humans and the environment. Nonetheless, the Army moved forward, using Galston's work to develop herbicides during the war to destroy enemy crops and it would be shipped in steel drums marked with an orange stripe; inspiring in the common term for the herbicidal weapon: Agent Orange.

Galston decried the use of his early research saying:

“I thought it was a misuse of science. Science is meant to improve the lot of mankind, not diminish it - and its use as a military weapon I thought was ill-advised.”

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Arthur Galston
Arthur Galston

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