The Impossible Neutrality of a Disaster in Seveso 1976

  • Fabio Lusito
Keywords: history of ecology, neutrality of science, radical science movements, Seveso, science communication


The Seveso disaster in 1976 is considered one of the worst environmental and health catastrophes of contemporary times. Because of its dramatic consequences, it opened a new phase of reflections on the use of science and technology in Italy in the second half of the troubled 1970s. This paper aims to explore the problem of the neutrality and non-neutrality of science by investigating the public narrative of the Seveso incident reported by two ideologically opposed newspapers such as the communist l’Unità and the center-right bourgeois daily Corriere della Sera. Through this comparison, it is possible to highlight the socio-political and ideological influences that affected public opinion on a disaster that was on the one hand environmental and sanitary, and on the other social and economic. In conclusion, the paper casts a transnational glance at the New York Times analysis, to highlight the differences in the narratives and to show how deep the Italian political background was in conditioning the reactions, including on the scientific level.