?By Robert Duerr
Dr. Tyrone Hayes, Professor of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley, gave his talk “Silent Spring to Silent Night…A Tale of Toads and Men” at UHH which detailed the adverse affects of Atrazine a herbicide commonly found in water wells in Hawaii.
?His speaking engagement was sponsored by the Hawaii Center for Food Safety and Hawaii Seeds. Hayes brought the full capacity audience through the history of his peer reviewed, published and internationally recognized amphibian studies on the popular herbicide Atrazine.
?Hayes calls Atrazine an endrocrine disrupter that demasculinizes and feminizes male frogs. Atrazine’s master chef is Syngenta, a Swiss global chemical and GMO behemoth. Hayes’ published studies in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” and “Nature” have been actively disparaged by Syngenta.
?Hayes’ studies claim that the chemical Atrazine in extreme parts per billion low doses deforms cells in amphibians. Hayes furthers his anti-Atrazine testimonial by stating that peer-reviewed and published works of other scientists around the world have proposed that the chemical is also damaging reptiles, birds, rats and human cells.
?Hayes began his work with Atrazine in 1997 working for consultant EcoRisk Inc. At the time Atrazine was owned by Novartis another pharma-chem leviathan, since swallowed by Syngenta. Hayes was one of a panel of scientists testing the herbicide for Novartis.
?When Hayes’s work hinted at toxic effects, Novartis dropped his funding from further research. Hayes went rogue and replicated studies in 2002 with African clawed frogs and leopard frogs that showed the same negative results as the EcoRisk Inc. study.
?African clawed frogs ae important Hayes says because at the time they were used for human pregnancy testing. In 2007 as a co-author his lab work showed that Atrazine is implicated “in complete feminization and chemical castration. ” It is now that he sees a ecoepidemiological link between frogs and humans and postulates that Atrazine at low doses causes damage in humans.
?This link Hayes calls a “tale of toads and men.” Hayes believes that Atrazine alters aromatose and estrogen production which is implicated in frog and human disease. Hayes further claims that Syngenta is now a “one stop shop” with unit Novartis selling Letrozole a prominent cancer drug which offsets Atrazine’s aberrant estrogen production.
?“I’m a boy that just loves frogs,” Hayes says repeatedly but this frog love has Syngenta writhing. A class-action lawsuit in 2014 uncovered an orchestrated professional and personal smear campaign by the chemical company against Hayes. Hayes’s work and others were used in a $105 million dollar settlement for water companies to pay for filtering of Atrazine. Syngenta settled denying wrongdoing
?Atrazine is the second most popular herbicide in the United States with 76 million pounds used each year. According to a 2013-14 joint study between the Hawaii Department of Health and Department of Agriculture Atrazine “was the most commonly found pesticide in the study. Of the sites tested 80 percent had atrazine detections.”
?Fenix Grange Hawaii Department of Health environmental cleanup supervisor told the Hawaii Tribune Herald that the highest amount detected in the island was .075 parts per billion. Safe drinking limits set are 3 ppb while Hayes conducted many of his experiments at 1 ppb.
?Hayes told GMO advocates in the audience that his main objection to GMO crops is their dedicated pesticide uses. He fears that the regulatory process has been corrupted by government, business and university collaborations that bias against safety and collaborates for profits and funding.
Robert Duerr is an outdoor writer and member of Outdoor Writers of America. He writes monthly about Hawaii land and sea public policy in Hawaii Fishing News. He is the first Hawaii writer to call for a breakup of DLNR forcing a separation of the state’s land leasing syndicate from natural resource management.