Atrazine, a potent hormone disrupter linked to sex-changes in animals and powerful effects on humans in extremely low doses has been found in one in 6 American’s drinking water.
A popular herbicide still being applied to conventional maize and other factory-farmed food crops by the tons annually has been thoroughly established in the scientific literature as a silent killer. This herbicide is known as atrazine, and researchers from across the world have found that it destroys the male prostate gland, interferes with normal human reproduction, disrupts healthy hormone balance and can even lead to early death.
First registered for commercial use in the U.S. back in 1959, atrazine quickly became one of the most widely used herbicides in the world, making its way onto factory farms growing corn, sorghum, sugar cane and various other commodity crops. But several decades after its initial approval, atrazine came under closer scrutiny by independent scientists who found that it was hardly the innocuous miracle chemical that its manufacturer made it out to be.
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The amount of the herbicide atrazine that’s released into the environment in the United States is likely harming most species of plants and animals, including mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles, according to a risk assessment released Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA assessment of atrazine will lead to tighter regulatory limits on the product, manufactured by Swiss-based Syngenta AG, which will ultimately prevent farmers from being able to use it to control weeds in the U.S.. Continue reading »
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Yale 360: The ecologist David Skelly has found that pollution is leading to limb deformities and the creation of “intersex” frogs
For the last two decades, strange things have been happening to frogs. Some frog populations have high rates of limb deformities, while others have high incidences of what is known as “intersex” — traits associated with both males and females, such as male frogs whose testes contain eggs.
David K. Skelly, professor of ecology at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, set out to discover what was causing these deformities, which some researchers were attributing to the use of an agricultural pesticide called atrazine. Skelly launched an experiment in ponds throughout Connecticut, studying frogs in four landscapes: forests, agricultural areas, suburbs, and cities. And what he found was surprising — the highest rates of deformities were not occurring in and around farmlands, but in cities and suburbs.
“Atrazine can’t be sprayed in Europe because it contaminates groundwater, but it remains widely used in the U.S., where the EPA endorsed its continued use as recently as 2006, based on a scientific review from 2003. Federal records show the review was heavily influenced by industry and relied on studies financed by Syngenta, a Swiss-based company that manufactures most of the atrazine sprayed in the U.S.”
Alarmed by latest research, the Obama administration is conducting a broad review of toxic weed killer atrazine that could lead to tighter restrictions
Despite growing health concerns about atrazine, an agricultural weedkiller sprayed on farm fields across the Midwest, most drinking water is tested for the chemical only four times a year — so rarely that worrisome spikes of the chemical likely go undetected.
High levels of the herbicide can linger in tap water during the growing season, according to more frequent tests in some agricultural communities.
Spread heaviest on cornfields, atrazine is one of the most commonly detected contaminants in drinking water. Studies have found that exposure to small amounts of the chemical can turn male frogs into females and might be more harmful to humans than once thought. Continue reading »
An atrazine-induced female frog (a genetic male) is shown (bottom) copulating with an unexposed male sibling. This union produced viable eggs and larvae that survived to metamorphosis and adulthood. Yet, because both animals were genetic males, the offspring were all males. (Tyrone Hayes photo)
BERKELEY —Atrazine, one of the world’s most widely used pesticides, wreaks havoc with the sex lives of adult male frogs, emasculating three-quarters of them and turning one in 10 into females, according to a new study by University of California, Berkeley, biologists.
The 75 percent that are chemically castrated are essentially “dead” because of their inability to reproduce in the wild, reports UC Berkeley’s Tyrone B. Hayes, professor of integrative biology.
“These male frogs are missing testosterone and all the things that testosterone controls, including sperm. So their fertility is as low as 10 percent in some cases, and that is only if we isolate those animals and pair them with females,” he said. “In an environment where they are competing with unexposed animals, they have zero chance of reproducing.”
The 10 percent or more that turn from males into females – something not known to occur under natural conditions in amphibians – can successfully mate with male frogs but, because these females are genetically male, all their offspring are male.
“When we grow these guys up, depending on the family, we will get anywhere from 10 to 50 percent females,” Hayes said. “In a population, the genetically male females can decrease or wipe out a population just because they skew sex ratios so badly.” Continue reading »
Gastroschisis in 30-week fetus. Photograph of cesarean delivery shows bowel protruding through anterior abdominal wall defect.
(NaturalNews) Gastroschisis is a birth defect in which the intestines, and sometimes other organs, develop outside the fetal abdomen and poke out through an opening in the abdominal wall. Long considered a rare occurrence, gastroschisis has mysteriously been on the rise over the last three decades. In fact, the incidence of the defect has soared, increasing two to four times in the last 30 years. But why?
Researchers think they’ve found the answer. The culprit behind the suffering of babies born with this condition appears to be the agricultural chemical atrazine. That’s the conclusion of a study just presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) held in Chicago. Continue reading »