A new scientific study has generated verifiable evidence that a popular weedkiller produced by Syngenta and used on crops all around the United States is so dangerous to our endocrine system that it can turn natural-born male species into females.
The study’s findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers from the University of California in Berkeley. The researchers discovered that African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis) exposed to just 2.5 parts per billion (ppb) of atrazine for three years (a level below the 3 ppb allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] in human drinking water) ended up losing their maleness and becoming chemically castrated.
Of 40 frogs that were part of the experiment, 30 could no longer reproduce after 3 years of exposure to atrazine. Meanwhile, four of the frogs actually turned from male to female and proceeded to mate with other males and successfully produce viable eggs – even though they were all born as natural males at the beginning of the study.
Only 6 of the 40 frogs were in any way normal at the conclusion of the study, suggesting an 85% damage rate resulting from exposure to atrazine at levels below what the federal government has deemed it “safe” for humans.
To ensure that the study’s results were erroneous, the scientists made sure that male frogs with only ZZ sex chromosomes were used, guaranteeing that not one of the frogs was a hermaphrodite. It was double-checked that all 40 frogs were in fact, males and not females and that no other factors other than the atrazine were present that could have affected them from turning male to female.
“If we got hermaphrodites, there was no way to know if they were males with ovaries or females with testes,” stated biologist and study author Tyrone Hayes. “By using all ZZ males, we were assured that any hermaphrodites or females were indeed sex-reversed males.”
Atrazine – the Gender-Bending Herbicide
Atrazine is sprayed on millions of U.S. croplands to control grass weeds. It also spurs the growth of a protein known as “aromatase” that causes the body to produce more female hormones, for instance, estrogen. In frogs, excess aromatase spurs male gonads to turn into female ovaries.
These findings are not new. Research dating back to the early 1990s revealed that atrazine directly interferes with normal hormone production, both in animals and humans, as well as in amphibians who have to endure it through runoff in water. Some 57% of U.S. streams are now contaminated with atrazine, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
This is the reason why the European Union disallowed the use of atrazine back in 2003, mentioning the “ubiquitous and unpreventable” water contamination from its continued use on food crops.
The U.S. has yet to follow. Could it be that crop chemicals like atrazine are having the same effects on humans as they are on frogs, causing progressively more damage with each passing generation? The evidence seems to suggest so.
“Atrazine increases aromatase and/or estrogen production in zebrafish, goldfish, caimans, alligators, turtles, quail and rats,” warns Hayes, conjecturing that humans and many other species of life are being similarly damaged by its ubiquitous presence in the environment. Keep in mind that Hayes has conducted similar atrazine research in the past on tadpoles, which arrived at the same disturbing results.
“So this is not just a frog problem,” he adds.
What do you think of this gender-bending news on the effect of herbicides on animals and us eventually? Share your ideas in the comments below.