Daily News Archive

Minnesota May 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 it out.

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 Hayes, an internationally recognized expert on frog deformities and their link to pesticides, said that his latest unpublished research found that atrazine, when used in combination with other chemicals, may set the stage for frog deformities that have been found in Minnesota and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 below)

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.)

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.