Atrazine Update

Frogs

Back in March, Dr. Tyrone Hayes came to DtaS to speak about the herbicide atrazine. In his studies, he showed an effect on the endocrine system of frogs, leading to reproductive problems. This he said was a possible explanation for the decline in the frog population.

However, Syngenta and other have been unable to replicate his work. The EPA also has been unable to replicate the results. Dr. Hayes has argued these problems stem from using different sets of trial conditions that do not accurately reflect reality.

In any case, studies have been slowly leaking out indicating immuno-disruption by atrazine in various animals. NPR reports on another study just released again pointing at atrazine.

Even though atrazine has been banned in the EU, it is still the 2nd most widely used pesticide here in the US (behind only Roundup). It is mainly used on corn.

There is a new study in Nature on flatworms, called larval trematodes, that seem to show another aspect in frog decline. In a perfect storm of ecological conditions, atrazine seemed to kill off floating algae, which led to greater numbers of floor algae, which led to greater numbers of snails, which carry the flatworms, which then infect the frogs.

It seems as if atrazine has been implicated again in a way that harms frog’s immune systems. According to Dr. Hayes, atrazine only results in a 2-3% increase in corn production. If this is true, why continue atrazine’s use considering the possible negative implications?

All this aside, habitat destruction/climate change is hurting frogs probably to a greater degree.

More Info:
Dr. Hayes on QUEST
Dr. Hayes at DtaS
NPR Report on Frogs
Study on Frog Decline in Nature
Science Friday Interview with Andrew Blaustein

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