The Poison Squad: Deborah Blum with Maria Konnikova

The turn of the century fight for food safety and the birth of the 1906 Food and Drug Act.

Milk, meat, and other industrial food products were once unregulated, unlabeled, and unchecked by government oversight. Food manufacturers added chemicals such as formaldehyde and borax with an eye towards profits, not public safety. In New York City it is estimated that thousands of children were poisoned every year.  Activists, journalists, scientists, and women’s groups agitated for change, but even as protective measures were enacted elsewhere, American corporations blocked even modest controls.

Then, in 1883, Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley was named chief chemist of the agriculture department, and the agency began carefully investigating food and drink fraud, even going so far as to conduct human testing on groups of young men who came to be known as “The Poison Squad.” Over the next thirty years Dr. Wiley and others campaigned for food safety and consumer protection, culminating in the landmark 1906 Food and Drug Act. In The Poison Squad, science journalist Deborah Blum spins a compelling narrative and drives home the importance of confronting corporate greed and government corruption. She will be joined in conversation by Maria Konnikova, journalist and author of The Confidence Game and Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes.











When: Wed., Jan. 30, 2019 at 6:30 pm
Where: New York Public Library—Mid-Manhattan Library
476 Fifth Ave. (42nd St. Entrance)
212-340-0863
Price: Free
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The turn of the century fight for food safety and the birth of the 1906 Food and Drug Act.

Milk, meat, and other industrial food products were once unregulated, unlabeled, and unchecked by government oversight. Food manufacturers added chemicals such as formaldehyde and borax with an eye towards profits, not public safety. In New York City it is estimated that thousands of children were poisoned every year.  Activists, journalists, scientists, and women’s groups agitated for change, but even as protective measures were enacted elsewhere, American corporations blocked even modest controls.

Then, in 1883, Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley was named chief chemist of the agriculture department, and the agency began carefully investigating food and drink fraud, even going so far as to conduct human testing on groups of young men who came to be known as “The Poison Squad.” Over the next thirty years Dr. Wiley and others campaigned for food safety and consumer protection, culminating in the landmark 1906 Food and Drug Act. In The Poison Squad, science journalist Deborah Blum spins a compelling narrative and drives home the importance of confronting corporate greed and government corruption. She will be joined in conversation by Maria Konnikova, journalist and author of The Confidence Game and Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes.

Buy tickets/get more info now