Is Our Sexuality (and our Future) at Stake?

There are certain things I didn’t dwell on too much in my new book, Organic Manifesto—partly because I didn’t have quite enough evidence, and partly because they’re so uncomfortable to think and talk about that I didn’t want to overwhelm people.

But as with last week’s entry about nitrogen, since my book went to press I’ve learned about new studies, and these raise serious questions about our ability to reproduce as a species…unless we stop poisoning ourselves, and our children, with chemicals.

The first one involves atrazine, which is one of the most widely used herbicides (weed killers) in America. Over 80 million pounds are spread on our land every year. A new study by the University of California–Berkeley, has found that atrazine turns boy frogs into girl frogs. More important, 75 percent of the male frogs in the study were literally castrated by chemicals. Worldwide, there has been a consistent and relentless decrease in amphibian populations. Atrazine is the smoking gun.

Why should we care? Because many of our wells and waterways are contaminated with unsafe levels of atrazine, and the chemical has been linked to reproductive effects in humans, too. Those frogs are on the fast track to extinction—paving the way for us to follow.

Many major publications have done stories recently on the “epidemic” of young boys who seem to lack drive, ambition, focus, and the attention span to get jobs and keep them. It’s been blamed on everything from absentee fathers to the increasing empowerment of women. Endocrine disruptors like atrazine mess with hormones, and now it’s looking like they turn boys into girls and castrate our children.

It’s not just the boys at risk, either. Many years ago, a small village in Mexico in the Yaqui Valley had a major disagreement about whether to allow chemical farming in the region. Half of the village decided to stay and farm with chemicals, the other half moved up into the mountains to escape contamination.

A researcher from the University of Florida has been studying the families for more than a decade. In 1999, she published a report showing that the children in the chemical valley were unable to draw age-appropriate pictures of people, due to neurological damage they’d suffered. Now that these children are growing up, she has not only found instances of early puberty, but also that the overly large breasts of the young women do not contain mammary glands. So they look like women but will never be able to feed their babies—if they can even conceive and carry a child to birth in the first place.

Similar studies done in India have found the same thing.

Here’s what gets me angry. We spend all of our breath in the United States huffing and puffing over gay marriage—and yet our farming practices are actually destroying healthy sexuality and gender. We’ll spend a fortune on in-vitro fertility treatments when we have trouble conceiving, but we won’t spend a few extra bucks a week on organic foods so we can avoid chemicals that affect our ability to reproduce.

As I mention in my book, Syngenta, a Swiss company, makes atrazine; Switzerland has banned atrazine. Even the EPA has said that banning atrazine in the U.S. will only lead to a 1 percent decline in our food production. We can handle that, since we already have too much food to begin with. So why are we allowing this stuff to contaminate our water?

Wake up, America!


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15 Responses to Is Our Sexuality (and our Future) at Stake?

  1. Laura March 8, 2010 at 9:13 am #

    That’s very disturbing news!
    First, the Earth without frogs is an Earth inundated with mosquitoes!
    That will lead to mosquito-borne illnesses on epidemic levels. It will also lead to widespread chemical pesticide use, MORE chemicals in our environment.
    Second, the studies in Mexico are a major cause for alarm. I can’t help but wonder if it’s all part of some diabolical plan to “exterminate” people!?! That only those not-exposed,( if that’s possible) and can afford/access organic may be saved? Obviously leaves the lower income population at most risk.
    “Wake-up America” is sound advice!

  2. Donna in Delaware March 8, 2010 at 9:45 am #

    I’ve been saying “Wake up America” for a long time now, even with conversations with former friends and neighbors. I say “former” because my husband and I have lost our friendship with these people over the last 10 years. It’s for the best. They all have the heads stuck in the sand. They did not like what we had to say about America, it’s leaders, and the environment, especially the environment. No one listens or seem to care. They have a mentality of and a nostalgic yearning for the past 100 or so years. The world has changed and is constantly changing. We, in this country can’t or don’t seem to want to (certain people, age groups, races, political figures). We will be left behind. It seems that other industrialized western nations “GET IT”. It is a shame that certain sectors in this country “DON’T”. What is it going to take, I ask you? Almost total destruction of the inhabitants of America? Do these certain people really need for things to get that far before they wake up? I hope that there is hope left for them or this is going to be a sorry, backward nation. It is on it’s way and starting to go down hill fast. Again, “WAKE UP AMERICA” before it’s wayyyyyyy too late! You need not be Einstein to figure out the consequences for not doing what is right and necessary for the health and survival of the land and future generations.

  3. Liza (Good to Grow, in Albuquerque) March 8, 2010 at 11:12 am #

    This makes me sick. I mean, I’m glad you shared the information because I had no idea (I thought I was isolated from pesticides, living in the city) but it’s so awful. Thank you for spreading the word!

  4. Nancy March 8, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    Thank you for confirming what I have sensed over the past ten years! I work full time, but have moved to an “agri-friendly” area where I grow as much as I can of the things that are typically covered in chemicals, either fertilizers or things to keep the looking appealing. For the balance of what cannot grow here, I do without if I have to, wash with plain soap before storing or eating, and have a small co-op going for eggs, poultry and vegetables and fruits. My children are in their 20’s now, but when they were growing I suspected something was in milk that caused most of their peers to develop sooner . . . forgot about commercially grown chicken and beef! I still believe the hormones in these animals are transferred to us, and can’t think of any other way to explain why this generation of 20-somethings look so different from my generation when we were 20, a span of 30 years. Thank you for keeping us informed – we are listening!

  5. Maya March 8, 2010 at 2:47 pm #

    Oi! How can these companies get away with this?!?! I did not sign up for this!

  6. Tina March 8, 2010 at 5:23 pm #

    I believe there are many pesticides still in use in South and Central America that have been banned for use in the U.S. for several decades. (Yet crops treated with them can be sold in our supermarkets; they just can’t be spread on U.S. grown crops. Another reason not to buy out-of-season produce.) Are the chemicals that you refer to the ones that the U.S. has already banned for use here, or are they still commonly used in this country too? Is there any research to suggest that American children who grow up on conventional farms have a higher rate of infertility or hormone disruption issues than the general population?

  7. Sacha March 8, 2010 at 5:51 pm #

    glad someone has the guts to tell the world what has been kindly pushed out of their minds for years. keep it up, i will read anything you put out there.

  8. Terri March 9, 2010 at 1:06 pm #

    Because of the evidence of potential harm that atrazine may cause to humans and the environment, the EPA has recently launched a thorough investigation of the short-term and long-term effects of this chemical. They are involving other agencies in their investigation as well so that there will be less of a chance of outside influence in their research. Atrazine is an herbicide that is very persistent and can leach in to ground water when applied inappropriately. Fortunately, atrazine is not highly used on lawns and cannot be used by homeowners!

    There are other pesticides that may be involved in human maladities which may include insecticides such as chlorinated hydrocarbins (such as DDT), organophosphates, and carbamates.

    Chlorinated hydrocarbons are estrogen-mimickers and also have been linked to underdeveloped egg-shells in predatory birds. Most of the chlorinated hydrocarbons are no longer registered for use in the United States (DDT was banned in 1972), and those that are being used are highly restricted. There is ongoning research to the long-term effects of this class of pesticide since it this group of pesticides are extremely persistent in the environment. Unfortunately, this group of pesticides is still highly used in under-developed countries.

    Organophosphates and Cabamates are nerve poisons and are highly toxic to humans and other wildlife. Although many carbamates and organophosphates have lost their registration due to their toxicty levels (and the fact that carbamates are associated with groundwater contamination), many are still widely used. What is very shocking is that homeowners are permitted to use these pesticides! Homeowner’s do not have the training to handle these nasty insecticides (and some herbicides too), and are responsible for a good chunk of our groundwater contamination human and wildlife poisoning!

    The EPA was set up to protect people and the environment from the effects of pesticides. To date, many pesticides have lost registration due to their toxic effects and it has become much more difficult to register pesticides. I believe they are doing their job, however, they still have a way to go as more information presents itself on other currently registered pesticides.

    I believe that the EPA could alleviate a lot of pesticide contamination/poisoning by not allowing the untrained public to purchase and use highly toxic and persistent pesticides (such as malathion, certain ortho products and seven).

    The unfortunate problem with organically grown products is the higher cost of organics over conventionally grown food. But since I have been a consumer, this has changed drastically! Since the demand for organic products has grown, more organics are being produced and sold in most supermarkets. With more demand for organics comes more orgaincs being produced. Who knows what the trend will be 20 years from now…but I am optomistic!

  9. Jill March 11, 2010 at 3:01 pm #

    Margaret Atwood (The HandMaid’s Tale) is looking like a prophet.

  10. michelle at smartlifeways March 16, 2010 at 2:46 pm #

    Thanks for this urgent post. I recently returned from Hawaii and was shocked to see Syngenta and Premier having a huge presence on Kauai and that corn was being grown-and I knew it had to be GMO corn. I looked up Syngenta and of course it led me to the atrazine story. Yes, banned in the country the company is from, and in the EU, but used here as you pointed out in massive doses.
    Sounds like a science fiction nightmare but it is true. To see this presence in a place as pristine as Hawaii was heartbreaking, and also to know that with winds and a small island seed contamination in inevitable.
    It is time for all of us to begin contacting our elected officials and let them know how we feel. Big-Ag has had their ear, and filled their pockets, but it is time that we start talking LOUD!

  11. Jenn Leonard March 26, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    So so agreed!Thank you for this post!

  12. Roger L Whited April 23, 2010 at 3:47 pm #

    wow where to begin! The Rio Grande cannot be used for irrigation, Mexico does not have a regulatory for chemicals disposal. All the industries that moved south, just over the border, dump into the river! There are places that u cannot even touch,because the liquid in the river is deadly poison to skin contact! YES THEY HAVE FOUND ATRAZINE IN THE CORN PRODUCED ! Years ago when they first introduces sprayers and chemicals for weed control no one knew of the side effects. I personally know of farmers that became allergic to the very ground they farmed(could not farm with out the new air- conditioned filtered tight cabs the new tractors had), the chemicals eventually killed them even tho they quit farming! I worked in a ag. business and my job was to over haul the sprayer pumps for customers. I picked a pump up without washing the pump in a neutralizer , and my right hand started burning at once for a liquid had not been drained out! Atrazine! I immediately washed with cold running water and then with soap and water, but the burning did not stop. I just put up with it>to my avail my hand the next spring broke out in a pattern the same as the spill the spring before! That was 50 years ago, my hand still has the dead skin, in kinda circular spots that occur in the spring, and it has gone up my arm! Like ,being shot with a bb and having the skin,dead,flaking in a circular pattern from the center. I developed psoriasis, well after my 64th bd. and this is a child hood disease, could it be the bad ATR– well u know. NOW MONSANTO, RECEIVED A JUDICIAL JUDGEMENT THAT THEIR GMO products that spread their pollen to organic crops (the farmer lost their ORGANTIC LABEL ,had to destroy fruit in Hawaii) and had to forfeit their tree crops produced for paper. the crops were the property(due to the patient)IOf MONSANTO!!! THE NEXT KICKER IS THAT.. they are considering that the Eatable crops,could thru GMO’s have insecticides within! NOW the lettuce scare was caused by too much nitrogen in the fertilizer. Romane was found to have salmanilla because of; the newer the inner leaves the higher the contamination.

  13. Roger L Whited April 23, 2010 at 4:28 pm #

    There is only one company that produces Seven now. With all the testing being available, no one knows what the side effects are. Eight is the alternative or Garden dust. Do u remember when a Seven mfg.plant exploded in India, many hundreds of deaths were caused by the chem. drift? The artificial sweet’ner Splenda, is sugar with two CHLORINE MOLECULES. ASPERTAME, HAS been discovered in the brain in a JELL- LIKE SUBSTANCE,with aluminum, that is linked to ALISHEIMERS(sp) . None of my rats have died so I use Saccharin. now for now..BAD SPELLERS OF THE WORLD UNTIE!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Nicola May 3, 2010 at 7:12 am #

    This is a Fantastic website and thank you for sharing this with all of your readers. It makes me sad to hear that so many people still do not know about these kinds of facts, we need to as a whole world need to become informed on this topic and others that scarily similar, pesticides,chemicals and food additives are every where and in everything!! Chemicals that can cause major damage to you and your family are in your every day products, your shampoo,conditioner,toothpaste,houshold cleaning products, hair spray, sunscreen, the list goes on and on, when you really start to look at what you and your family are eating and puting on or in your body every other day, its totally shocking and ethical wrong. Get educated as much as possible, stop spending your hard earned money of food and products that are slowly killing you and the ones you love.
    Take care

  15. The Knizzler May 11, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    All of us that have “woken up” must bear the responsibility to inform those that have not. The media has been stifled with the threat of lawsuits, so unless you seek out the truth, you will remain blissfully ignorant. PLEASE teach anyone and everyone you can about organic gardening, the threat of GMO’s and the danger of all the chemicals in our food system. I taught high altitude gardening in our local grange and was able to show shocking slides that woke up 115 people. I will continue to volunteer in this way in an attempt to save our children’s future.

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