Monday, April 19, 2010

The Thin Green Line

Last night, I was fortunate enough to watch Nature on PBS. The episode was entitled Frogs: The Thin Green Line.

One of the featured segments dealt with the effects of agriculture on frogs. In particular, it focused on the work that Tyrone Hayes (UC Berkeley) has done regarding the hormonal effects of the pesticide atrazine on amphibians. It turns frogs with male DNA into females, capable of laying eggs. That is scary.

I had heard of the work of Dr. Hayes before, but had not ever seen it so well laid out for the general public.

You might ask why this is so important. Atrazine is the most widely used pesticide on some major crops in the US (e.g. corn) and it's effects on humans have also been described, such as the low sperm count identified here.

In the comments to the section on the agricultural effects on amphibians, Dr. Hayes commented:
tyrone hayes says:
April 7, 2009 at 8:36 am

You can support the ban on atrazine by writing to Congress:
Keith Ellison
A form letter is available at
Every email counts and moves us in a forward direction to protect wildlife and human health.

I am asking you to do just that. Mark Twain's Jumping Frog of Calaveras County deserves to live.


Atrazine said...

Atrazine is a widely used herbicide utilized by farmers to control and prevent weeds from growing among crops, especially corn. Public safety measures have increased through the years because of the health risks associated with Atrazine use.

Tyrone Hayes said...

Since the 1950s, Atrazine has been favored in the fight against weeds that prevent abundant yields, or harvests. It also doesn't cause injury to crops and is adaptable to most soil systems. More than 65 percent of America's corn crops are treated with Atrazine. Herbicide workers also spray the chemical over highways and railroad paths.

Atrazine Water said...

Life without atrazine would complicate weed management in corn, especially for sweet corn growers. A study at the University of Illinois looked at 175 sweet corn fields in the Midwest to find out just how important this 50-year-old, broad-spectrum herbicide is in sweet corn grown for processing.