Atrazine use and frogs

70% of all amphibians are in decline. First published over 12 years ago, Dr. Tyrone Hayes has shown in laboratory-grade experiments that “Atrazine (≥0.1 ppb) induced hermaphroditism and demasculinized the larynges of exposed males…” Parts per billion!

Atrazine is the second most used pesticide in agriculture, after Roundup.  It’s the #1 used pesticide on the #1 crop, corn.

According to this evidence, drinking water can have enough atrazine in it to cause the effect in frogs. Exposure to the chemical is responsible for causing estrogen responses in animals, and the same chemistry and tissues exist in humans. Mammals aren’t as sensitive as frogs to this chemical, we can eliminate it from our bodies, while amphibians are bathed in it.  The good news is that atrazine is water soluble, so it might not persist in the environment if use is stopped.

People like to ask me about my observations and experiences biking and hiking, and I think this is the most pertinent bit of information I can hand off.  The surface waters in the United States are of extremely poor quality.  The animals aren’t extinct, but they are increasingly isolated in little parks and preserves and unused areas.  In agricultural areas, little ponds and streams look like toxic waste ditches and there is almost no life in them.  The photo below is a great illustration, you cannot expect animals to live in a field of DeKalb I-90.

This is a Minnesota game refuge, a field of DeKalb "I-90" maize.

This is a Minnesota game refuge, a field of DeKalb “I-90″ maize.

Depressing? Hell yeah! It’s depressing and alarming when you consider the extent of agriculture and the extent of the application of pesticides. However, I think the direction forward is pointed to by the science. What can we say about Atrazine use and frogs?  We can document the evidence with high quality and let it stand on its own.

This issue became very political, it could mean that a range of cheap solutions become more expensive… but the science is good and the evidence has stood for itself over the years. It has already stood up in court.

Dr. Tyrone Hayes, at Humboldt State University [1:28:00]

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