Daily News Archive
Consider Atrazine Ban in 2005
(Beyond Pesticides, November 4, 2004)
The head of Minnesota's state Senate Environment and Natural Resources
Committee said last week that legislators should consider banning the
herbicide atrazine, reported the Star
Tribune. "I definitely expect there will be legislation dealing
with atrazine next year," said Senator John Marty, of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor
party, who indicated that he will hold hearings on the issue before
drafting a bill. Senator Marty also said that Minnesota may want to
consider "doing what the European Union did," referring to
the EU's decision to not re-register the herbicide in an effort to phase
At a committee
hearing last Monday, Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D., a professor at the University
of California, Berkeley, testified that low levels of atrazine "chemically
castrate and feminize" male frogs, fish and other wildlife. Dr.
Hayes, an internationally recognized expert on frog deformities and
their link to pesticides, said that his latest unpublished research
found that atrazine, when used in combination with other chemicals,
may set the stage for frog deformities that have been found in Minnesota
and elsewhere, that include missing or extra legs. Dr. Hayes explained
that atrazine raises stress hormones and weakens immune systems, which
in turn make young frogs more vulnerable to parasites that interfere
with normal limb development.
The comments by
Minnesota's Senator Marty about a possible ban on atrazine come only
weeks after Dr. Hayes was uninvited by the Minnesota Pollution Control
Agency (MPCA) to be the keynote speaker at the agency's upcoming conference.
According to the Star Tribune on October 20, 2004, Dr. Hayes said that
he was asked by MPCA "if I would remove the words 'atrazine' and
'pesticide' from the title of my talk, and of course I refused to do
that because that's what I work on." (See Daily News story 10/25
Past research by Dr. Hayes has demonstrated that exposure to doses of
atrazine as small as 0.1 parts per billion-a level permitted in drinking
water by EPA-turns tadpoles into hermaphrodites---creatures with both
male and female sexual characteristics. Dr. Hayes' team found that up
to 20 percent of frogs exposed during their early development produced
multiple sex organs or had both male and female organs. Many also had
small, feminized larynxes (See a transcript
of the talk that Dr. Hayes gave to the 22nd National Pesticide Forum
in the Summer 2004 issue of Pesticides and You.)
TAKE ACTION: If you are a resident of Minnesota, contact Senator
Marty and other state legislators telling them that you support
a ban on herbicide atrazine. For others, contact your state pesticide
agency, Governor and elected officials and ask that the state ban atrazine.
To find the state pesticide contact information, go to Beyond Pesticides'
state pages and click on your state.
You can also click on state pages under "What's happening in your
state" on the Beyond Pesticides' homepage. While states register
pesticides by generally accepting the position of EPA, they have the
authority to ban pesticides under their state statutes and the responsibility
to protect their population's health and welfare and the environment
and wildlife of their state.