A Little Boy Who Likes Frogs
Attending the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership convention is an annual event that Aquarius Systems looks forward to every year. We enjoy seeing old friends, meeting new friends; customers, DNR agents and academics. This year’s event featured a speaker that has literally made headlines, although not always in a good way.
Dr. Tyrone Hayes of the University of California- Berkley has been slammed in the media for being a scientist turned activist; of which he is proud. He did not set off to be an activist, but trusts what one man said, “Those who have the privilege to know, have the duty to act.” ~ Albert Einstein
Dr. Hayes interest in frogs began as a child at his grandmother’s home. He was particularly interested in frog hormones which are similar to human hormones. After being asked to join a panel of experts conducting studies for Novartis (later Syngenta) on the herbicide atrazine, Dr. Hayes made a surprising discovery. Developing male African clawed frogs and leopard frogs exhibited female characteristics after exposure to atrazine.
Since that discovery and additional research, Dr. Hayes has become an advocate for banning atrazine. For those that don’t know, atrazine is an herbicide that is most often used in corn fields and on lawns. 76 million pounds of it are applied each year and it is one of the most widely used herbicides in the U.S., second to glyphosate. Atrazine is also the most commonly detected pesticide contaminating drinking water.
Hayes as well as well as other scientists studying atrazine in North and South America, Europe and Japan has found links between atrazine exposure and abnormal male hormone levels in fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. Co-author professor Val Beasley says at least 10 studies found that exposure to atrazine feminizes male frogs, sometimes to the point of sex reversal.
While human experiments aren’t possible a study shows that men with .1 parts per billion of atrazine in their urine have low sperm counts. Atrazine applicators have 24,000 times that amount in their urine that is known to “chemically” castrate frogs. Dr. Hayes questions what those applicators reproductive health is like.