Attwater Prairie Chicken Scandal

I realize that this post is not directly related to nutrition. However, I just found out about this story and had to share it.

The Attwater prairie chicken is a member of the North American grouse family. Over a century ago, up to one million of them lived along the coastal prairies of Texas and Louisiana. Today, they are limited to two small, isolated colonies in two counties along the Texas coast.

Attwater prairie chickens live on coastal prairie grasslands with tall grasses that are essential to the survival of this species. They have become endangered because the tallgrass prairie has been plowed for farmland and covered by cities. Their habitat has also been lost because of heavy grazing by cattle. Today, less than one percent of coastal prairies remain.

Image courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Image courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Attwater prairie chicken is considered one of the most endangered birds in North America.The population of Attwater prairie chickens has declined dramatically since 1993, when an estimated 456 Attwater prairie chickens existed in the wild. In 1994, that estimate dropped to 158 birds, and by 1996, only 42 of these birds were left.

In 1995, the Nature Conservancy, the largest environmental group in the United States, obtained a 2,300 acre property near Galveston Bay, known as the Texas City Prairie Preserve by a donation from Mobil Oil. The property contained breeding grounds for the Attwater prairie chicken. At the time, the property was being used for oil and gas drilling. Even though the reserve was intended to protect the habitat of the Attwater prairie chicken, the oil and gas drilling was not stopped. In fact, the Nature Conservancy drilled new natural gas wells and continued cattle grazing on the land. The group has since made millions of dollars off the land.

The Nature Conservancy insisted that neither the gas drilling nor the cattle grazing would harm the chickens. However, many experts and environmental groups disagree.

Since 2012, the Attwater prairie chickens have disappeared from the Texas City Prairie Preserve.

Regardless of the fact that the Attwater prairie chicken is no longer a protected species on the preserve and the land is being used for natural gas drilling and cattle grazing, you will find the following on the Nature Conservancy’s website:

Texas City Prairie Preserve
http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/texas/placesweprotect/texas-city-prairie-preserve.xml

Roughly 40 miles south of Houston, the Galveston Bay area bustles with activity; ships come and go at some of the busiest ports in the world, shrimpers, oystermen and fishermen prepare their nets, and tourists stroll through the scenic streets of Galveston. And in Texas City, a city of more than 45,000 that is situated on the southwest shoreline of Galveston Bay, The Nature Conservancy is working diligently to improve the health of the Gulf of Mexico, protect freshwater and preserve habitat for one of North America’s most endangered birds.

Established in 1995 thanks to a $2.2 million land donation from the Mobil Oil Company (now ExxonMobil), the Conservancy’s Texas City Prairie Preserve is 2,303 acres of coastal prairie at the intersection of urban expanse and rural beauty. The coastal grasslands found here are vital to the natural resilience of the Gulf Coast—prairies and marshlands act as a natural buffer during storms and hurricanes, absorbing and dispersing water from storm surges and floods. The sponge-like qualities of the prairie are also important for filtering the freshwater that flows into the Gulf of Mexico—more than three million gallons enter the Gulf from the Mississippi River alone.

In order to mitigate the impacts of excessive land subsidence and restore the preserve’s surrounding marshlands and coastal prairie, the Conservancy has partnered with the Texas General Land Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Galveston Bay Estuaries Program to implement a series of living shoreline projects. Over the last half-century, the shoreline at Texas City Prairie—along with much of the Galveston Bay area—has become more vulnerable to wave action and land loss due to subsidence, which occurs when excessive amounts of groundwater have been withdrawn from an aquifer. Once that occurs, the layers of clay within the aquifer compress and settle, which lowers the ground surface area from which the groundwater is being pumped. Once that groundwater water has been removed from the sediment, it cannot be replaced.

Attwater’s Prairie Chicken
http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/texas/explore/birds-attwaters-prairie-chicken.xml

Federally endangered in the United States, the Attwater’s prairie chicken suffered a precipitous drop in population during the 20th century. In 1900, there were around 1,000,000 individuals, but by 1999, less than 50 remained in the wild. Once found in Gulf Coast prairies from Texas to southwest Louisiana, the bird is now limited to remnant populations along the Texas coast. Less than one percent of its original range remains in suitable condition. In addition to pressures from loss of habitat, both juvenile and adult birds are at risk from predation by falcons, hawks and other raptors, as well as terrestrial species such as coyotes, raccoons and snakes.

Habitat for this critically imperiled species is protected at the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge and at The Nature Conservancy’s Texas City Prairie Preserve. The Conservancy is also a partner in the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken Recovery Team — comprised of local, state and federal conservation agencies and non-governmental partners—that strives to increase production of healthy captive-bred birds for release into the wild.

The possible extinction of the Attwater Prairie Chicken has become a stark example of the dangers of allowing corporate influence on the boards and finances of conservation groups that seem to have opposing interests.

Over this holiday season, you will undeniably receive requests from several non-profit organizations for support. While there are many very good NGOs doing very useful work, I would recommend that you take the time to research the organization you are thinking about donating to in order to ensure that their principles are in line with yours.

Everyone dollar you spend is a way for you to vote for what’s important to you. Make sure you know where your money is going and what you are voting for.

* Information from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website (http://tpwd.texas.gov); U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website (http://www.fws.gov); Wilson, Janet. “Wildlife Shares Nest with Profit.” Los Angeles Times 20 August 2002 (http://articles.latimes.com/2002/aug/20/local/me-nature20); Stephens, Joe and David B. Ottaway. “How a Bid to Save a Species Came to Grief.” The Washington Post 5 May 2003 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062600944.html); Gillis, Justin. “Group Earns Oil Income Despite Pledge on Drilling.” The New York Times 3 August 2014 (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/04/science/group-earns-oil-income-despite-pledge-on-drilling.html?_r=1) *

The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

Do you want to start eating organics but can’t afford to make the switch completely? You can consult the Environmental Working Group’s list of the cleanest and dirtiest conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. The Dirty Dozen highlights the top twelve produce to always eat organic and the Clean Fifteen highlights the fifteen conventionally grown produce that are safe.

Dirty Dozen Plus
1. Apples
2. Strawberries
3. Grapes
4. Celery
5. Peaches
6. Spinach
7. Sweet bell peppers
8. Nectarines – imported
9. Cucumbers
10. Cherry tomatoes
11. Snap peas – imported
12. Potatoes

Plus…
13. Hot peppers
14. Kale and collard greens

Clean Fifteen
1. Avocados
2. Sweet corn
3. Pineapples
4. Cabbage
5. Sweet peas – frozen
6. Onions
7. Asparagus
8. Mangoes
9. Papayas
10. Kiwi
11. Eggplant
12. Grapefruit
13. Cantaloupe
14. Cauliflower
15. Sweet potatoes

You can read the full report and more at http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/.

This entry was posted in Food.

Become a Chemical Detective

Tonight, I attended a free workshop put on by Environmental Defence about identifying and reducing dangerous chemicals in your home.

Environmental Defence is a non-profit organization that conducts research on the relationship between the environment and health, and works to educate the government, businesses and individuals on how to avoid toxins in our homes and bodies.

The workshop consists of two parts. Part I: “Chemical Detective” offers information about common sources of exposure to toxic substances at home, and how to avoid these substances.

Part II: “Prevention and Action” offers environmental health leadership training, including tools for working towards reducing toxic pollution from consumer products, and brainstorming ways to speak out about this issue in our communities. This project is collaboration with Breast Cancer Action Montreal.

I found the workshop to be very informative and practical. Even though I thought I knew a fair bit about toxins, I still learnt some very interesting information. If you live in the Toronto area, I would recommend checking it out. It can be very easy to replace a few key products in your home to help reduce your body’s toxic load.

If you are interested in learning more about the workshop or to RSVP, please contact Environmental Defence at kickouttoxics@environmentaldefence.ca.

This entry was posted in Toxins.

The Toxic Ten

I want to share with you the Environmental Defence’s Toxic Ten List, a list of the top ten toxic ingredients to avoid in your personal care products.

1,4-dioxane
Found in sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), a chemical used in products that lather, like shampoo, toothpaste and body wash. SLES can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane during the manufacturing process. Skin irritant and probable carcinogen.

Artificial musks
Nitromusks such as musk xylene, musk ketone
Found in some products that contain fragrance or perfume, various hair products, moisturizers and cosmetics (even those labelled “unscented”). Endocrine disruptors and potential environmental contaminants dues to bioaccumulation.

Coal tar derived colours
P-phenylenediamine (PPD)
Found in hair dye. Allergens, neurotoxins and possible carcinogens.

BHA & BHT
Butylated hydroxyanisole, butylated hydroxytoluene
Found in moisturizers, makeup and some fragrances. Allergens, developmental toxicants and endocrine disruptors.

Formaldehyde releasing agents
Quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
Found in various hair products, moisturizers and cosmetics. Immune system toxicants and endocrine disruptors.

Petrolatum
Petroleum jelly
Found in various lip, skin and hair products. Can be contaminated with PAHs which are carcinogens, skin allergens and skin irritants.

Parabens
Ethylparaben, methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben
Found in various cosmetics and moisturizers. Allergens, male reproductive toxicants, immune system toxicants and endocrine disruptors.

Phthalates
Dibutyl phthalate, DEHP, DEP
Found in nail products and scented products. Allergens, linked to asthma, reproductive and developmental toxicants and endocrine disruptors.

Silicone chemicals
Cyclomethicone, cyclotetrasiloxane, cyclopentasiloxane, cyclohexasiloxane
Found in various hair products, moisturizers and cosmetics. Skin irritants and environmental contaminants due to bioaccumulation.

Triclosan
Found in products labelled “antibacterial”, such as antiperspirants/deodorants, cleansers and hand sanitizers. Environmental toxicant and endocrine disruptor.

You can go to environmentaldefence.ca to download a personal care products pocket shopping guide, find safer alternatives and sign the Just Beautiful petition asking the beauty industry to keep toxic chemicals out of our products.

This entry was posted in Toxins.

How Safe is your Toothpaste?

Did you know that your toothpaste may not be good for you? Many toothpastes contain several ingredients that can be harmful.

1. Sodium laureth sulfate is used to make products foam and bubble. Depending on the manufacturing process, it may be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, which are probable human carcinogens. It can also irritate skin and eyes.

2. Sodium fluoride is added to toothpaste to prevent cavities. While small amounts of fluoride may be beneficial, too much fluoride can be toxic. We are ingesting far too much fluoride, which also accumulates in our tissues. All of this fluoride in our systems can cause gastrointestinal irritation, neurological reactions, decreased IQ in children and skeletal weakness. There is actually enough fluoride in a tube of toothpaste to kill a child.

3. Glycerin is added to toothpaste to prevent it from drying out. The glycerin coats teeth which contributes to de-mineralization and can prevent re-mineralization.

4. Saccharin, sorbitol and aspartame are artificial sweeteners that are added to toothpaste to improve the taste. These artificial sweeteners can cause side effects like headaches, dizziness, mood changes, vomiting or nausea, abdominal pains, diarrhea, seizures, memory loss, fatigue, numbness, joint pain, depression, anxiety and blurred vision.

5. Triclosan is a synthetic antimicrobial/antibacterial agent. It can cause allergies and asthma by weakening the immune system, it is an endocrine disruptor, it may disrupt thyroid function and it is a possible human carcinogen. There is also growing concern that antibacterials are contributing to the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

6. Titanium dioxide is used to make toothpaste white. It is a possible human carcinogen.

The good news is that there are alternatives. I’ve discovered a toothpaste, called Earthpaste, that’s made entirely of clay, sea salt, tea tree oil, xylitol and essential oils. Since using this toothpaste, I’ve noticed that my teeth have been cleaner than they’ve ever been.

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You can also brush your teeth with sea salt or baking soda or make your own homemade toothpaste.

This entry was posted in Toxins.

Avocados

avocado

I think avocados are a perfect food. They are creamy, rich and smooth. They are not just for guacamole but can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. They can be added to sandwiches, salads, pasta, soup and chocolate pudding.

Avocados were first cultivated in Mexico as early as 500 BC. They were first introduced to the United States in 1871. At the time, there were over 25 varieties of avocados produced in California. Today, the primary variety of avocado is the hass avocado. One hass avocado contains:

Dietary fiber = 9.2 g
Total sugar = 0.41 g
Energy = 227 kcal
Protein = 2.67 g

Minerals
Calcium = 18.0 mg
Iron = 0.83 mg
Magnesium = 39.0 mg
Phosphorus = 73.0 mg
Potassium = 690 mg
Sodium = 11.0 mg

Vitamins and Phytochemicals
Vitamin C = 12.0 mg
Thiamin = 0.10 mg
Riboflavin = 0.19 mg
Niacin = 2.60 mg
Pantothenic acid = 2.00 mg
Vitamin B6 = 0.39 mg
Folate = 121 μg
Choline = 19.3 mg
Betaine = 1.0 mg
Vitamin A = 10.0 μg
Carotene, beta = 86.0 μg
Carotene, alpha = 33.0 μg
Lutein and zeaxanthin = 369 μg
Vitamin E = 2.68 mg
Vitamin K = 28.6 μg

Lipids
Saturated fatty acids = 2.90 g
Monounsaturated fatty acids = 13.3 g
Polyunsaturated fatty acids = 2.47 g

The health benefits of avocados are numerous:
* Avocados are a great source of protein with approximately 2.67 grams of protein and 18 essential amino acids.
* Avocado consumers tend to consume significantly more of the key shortfall nutrients, including dietary fiber, vitamin K, vitamin E, potassium, and magnesium
* Avocado consumers have higher HDL-cholesterol, lower risk of metabolic syndrome, and lower weight, BMI, and waist circumference.
* Avocados have been shown to have a beneficial effect on total cholesterol and body weight control.
* Avocado enriched diets improve lipid profiles by lowering LDL-cholesterol without raising triglycerides or lowering HDL-cholesterol.
* Avocados contain a number of bioactive phytochemicals including carotenoids, terpenoids, D-mannoheptulose, persenone A and B, phenols, and glutathione that have been reported to
have anti-carcinogenic properties.
* Avocados may have DNA damage protection effects and promote eye and skin health.

Many people are afraid to eat avocados because of their fat content. Unfortunately, this is based on outdated science where we used to think that eating fat in foods would cause fat in our bodies. This resulted in all of us restricting our diets to low-fat foods. We now know that just like all calories are not created equal, not all fats are created equal. Fats can be classified as fats that are good for us and fats that are bad for us.

Fats can be monounsaturated, polyunsaturated or saturated. This refers to whether or not the chain of fatty acids is bonded to all of the hydrogen atoms it can. A saturated fatty acid has the maximum number of hydrogen atoms. A monounsaturated fatty acid has one hydrogen atom missing and a polyunsaturated fatty acid has two or more hydrogen atoms missing. At the point of unsaturation (where the hydrogen is missing), the carbon atom forms a double bond. The degree of saturation effects the temperature at which the fat melts. Generally, the more unsaturated the fat is, the more it will be liquid at room temperature. Saturated fats tend to be stable at room temperature, whereas polyunsaturated fats tend to be more unstable and are generally stored in the refrigerator. Animal fats tend to be saturated, while plant fats tend to be unsaturated. The general view was that saturated fats were bad for you and unsaturated fats are good for you. There is now new research to suggest that saturated fats such as coconut oil, red palm oil and avocados are healthy for you. So when consuming fats, look for healthy fats such as coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil and flaxseed oil.

Do not try to cut fats out of your diet. Fats are an important part of a healthy diet. They:
* are the body’s main source of stored energy
* provide fuel to muscles
* protect internal organs from shock
* insulate against temperature extremes
* form the major material of cell membranes
* are used as the raw materials for various other compounds, such as hormones

One of my favourite quick breakfasts is to toast up some gluten-free bread and top it with mashed avocado, salt, pepper and a drizzle of smoked olive oil.

* Information from Dreher, Mark L., & Adrienne J. Davenport. (2013) “Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects.” Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 53: 738-750; Sizer, Frances S., Ellie Whitney, and Leonard A. Piche. Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies. Toronto: Nelson Education Ltd., 2012.*

This entry was posted in Food.

Chocolate!

Last week, I went to a chocolate-making workshop at Chocosol. For those of you in the Toronto-area, Chocosol is a fantastic company that creates fair-trade chocolate. Rather than look at chocolate as candy or a superfood, they have gone back to cacao’s origins and view it as a food of the gods. And food of the gods it is! Their chocolate is nothing like the leftover halloween candy you are used to eating. It’s rich and decadent, while also providing you with a host of health benefits. Here is a summary of their principles from their website:

Founded in 2004 in Oaxaca, Mexico, ChocoSol is now in its tenth year. ChocoSol is a learning community/social enterprise that focuses on making the ‘food of the gods’ – commonly known as cacao – into fresh, whole food, stone ground chocolate on an artisanal scale.

Our learning community is also focused on the teachings of cacao. The ‘Sol’ in ChocoSol is from the Spanish word for ‘sun’ and refers to our first 1,000 kilos of cacao that were roasted with solar power in Oaxaca. In French, ‘sol’ means soil and in English ‘sol’ sounds like ‘soul’ and reminds us of how important it is to do things with a good spirit to continuously build and expand our learning community. That’s why we say: Good for mind, body and soil.

Our artisanal chocolate is a symbol that embodies our values of socially just, ecological chocolate made, not only, with a ‘cradle to cradle’ approach, but also, charged with the use of solar energy, bicycle-powered product deliveries, and pedal-powered machines such as bicycle blenders at farmers’ markets and special events.

The main ingredient used in our chocolate is the organically- and shade-grown cacao bean sourced directly from Indigenous communities and forest gardens in the Lacondon Jungle of Chiapas, Mexico and the Oaxacan mountains of Southern Mexico. Our reciprocal horizontal trade relationships with the farmers go beyond the exchange of commodities, and extend to the exchange of heirloom seedlings, best practices and social enterprise models.

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Goodies sold at Chocosol

Goodies sold at Chocosol

Their focus on socially just chocolate practices ensures that both the farmers and the cacao are well taken care of.

The workshop I went to introduced us to jaguar chocolate. For those of you that have never heard of jaguar chocolate, it is made from white cacao beans, instead of the traditional red cacao beans. This is real white chocolate (most white chocolate has no cacao in it). It has an amazing caramel/coffee crisp/almond/butterscotch taste.

Red and white cacao beans

Red and white cacao beans

Pouring jaguar chocolate

Pouring jaguar chocolate

We learnt not only the process of making chocolate but also the social and cultural history of chocolate, the use of forest gardens and the health benefits of chocolate.

There are several compounds in cacao that may provide significant health benefits. Firstly, cacao is high in antioxidant polyphenols which combat oxidative stress and may assist in the prevention of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases. Secondly, cacao contains anandamide which is a neurotransmitter that can cause feelings of bliss. Thirdly, the theobromine in cacao can cause mental alertness and clarity…and these are just some of the benefits of cacao!

But please keep in mind that all these health benefits are lost when you add milk, butterfat, preservatives and process the cacao into candy.

Now, I’m going to go enjoy a cup of xocolatl…

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This entry was posted in Food.

Save the Bees

Bees are in crisis!

The use of neonicotinoid pesticides are killing bees at an alarming rate. Neonicotinoids are a fairly new class of insecticides that affect the central nervous system of insects. They are currently being sprayed on a wide variety of agricultural crops in North America. Nearly 100% of corn seed and roughly 60% of soybean seed are treated with neonicotinoids. They have been banned by the European Union.

By compromising their immune and central nervous systems, neonicotinoids make bees more vulnerable to viruses, reduces their navigation skills and affects their capacity to forage and communicate forage opportunities to other bees. According to the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists, the average loss of honey bee colonies over the winter in Canada was 25% in 2013-2014. In Ontario, the average loss was 58%.

So, what happens if bees are killed off? Bees pollinate about one third of all agriculture we eat. That would mean no more apples, pumpkins, berries, cucumbers, almonds…and the list goes on. And forget about the flowers in your garden. A blow to the bee population would mean a huge blow to our ecosystem.

There is good news! The Ontario Government just announced the release of the Pollinator Health Action Plan, which sets ambitious targets for improving bee health. These targets include:
* Working towards a goal of 80 per cent reduction in the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed by 2017
* Reducing the over-winter honeybee mortality rate to 15 per cent by 2020

The government has released a discussion paper on pollinator health (http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/pollinator/discuss-paper.pdf). Over the next 60 days, they will be taking comments from industry, researchers, organizations and individuals. You can submit your comments to PollinatorHealth@Ontario.ca.

If approved, new rules on the use of neonicotinoids will be in place by July 1, 2015, in time for the 2016 agricultural planting season.

For more information, you can consult:
http://www.ontario.ca/environment-and-energy/pollinator-health

Image courtesy of Seshalyn’s Party Ideas

My Diet

I often get asked about my diet. When you know so much about the food around you and how it’s produced, it’s hard not to change your diet. I have a very strict diet. However, I do not expect everyone to be able to eat like I do. This is just what I found works for me. I encourage everyone to put a little more effort into finding out about your food and where it comes from and then decide what works for you.

I am a vegan, which means that I do not eat meat, fish, eggs or dairy. I also do not eat gluten, soy products, processed sugar and corn and only eat organic food. Some of these items do not agree with me (for instance, I am allergic to the protein in dairy) and some of these items I avoid because they are genetically modified and heavily sprayed with pesticides and herbicides.

There’s not a lot left for me to eat, right? Wrong! I actually eat very well. One of the downsides to eating like this is that it is very hard to eat out. However, I have rediscovered the joy of cooking. I really enjoying discovering and trying out new recipes and cooking techniques. Most recipes can be modified to be gluten-free (by using gluten-free flours like coconut flour, chickpea flour or almond flour) or vegan (by using coconut milk or almond milk) or processed sugar-free (by using maple syrup, coconut sugar or stevia). There are so many wonderful substitutes out there. I’ve made a gluten-free, vegan mac and cheese that has been enjoyed by many of my carnivore friends.

Some of my favourite cooking blogs include:

http://thesimpleveganista.blogspot.ca
http://ohsheglows.com
http://vegangela.com/category/vegan-recipes/

It doesn’t take a lot of time and effort to change the way you eat. You just need to make small changes and be open to experimentation.

This entry was posted in Food.

Hormones, Frogs & You

A few weeks ago, I attended a talk by Dr. Tyrone Hayes that was presented by Environmental Defence. Dr. Hayes is a biologist and professor of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is best known for his work on the effect of the herbicide Atrazine on frogs.

At the talk, we learnt that Atrazine is a widely used herbicide developed by Syngenta and is an endocrine-distrupting chemical. It has been sprayed on millions of bushels of corn, sorghum and sugarcane for years.

Dr. Hayes and his team have done extensive research on the effects of atrazine on the metamorphosis and sex differentiation of frogs. They discovered that Atrazine causes a percentage of male frogs to be demasculinized or chemically castrated and completely feminized. In other words, atrazine can change male frogs into female frogs when the tadpoles are exposed to small doses of the chemical.

Atrazine causes testosterone levels to decline by converting testosterone into estrogen though the aromatase pathway. Testosterone is the male sex hormone that promotes the development of male sex characteristics. Without testosterone, the tadpoles are unable to grow male genitalia and become feminized. In some cases, they were found to produce eggs. This results in these frogs being genetically male but physically and physiologically female.

For more information, here is a list of some of Dr. Hayes research papers on Atrazine:

Hayes, T.B., A. Collins, M. Lee, M. Mendoza, N. Noriega, A.A. Stuart, and A. Vonk (2002) Hermaphroditic, demasculinized frogs following exposure to the herbicide, atrazine, at ecologically relevant doses. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sciences (USA). 99(8): 5476-5480.

Hayes, T.B, K. Haston, M. Tsui, A. Hoang, C. Haeffele, and A. Vonk (2002) Hermaphrodites beyond the corn field: Atrazine-induced testicular oogenesis in leopard frogs (Rana pipiens). Nature 419: 895-896.

Hayes, T.B, K. Haston, M. Tsui, A. Hoang, C. Haeffele, and A. Vonk (2003) Atrazine-induced hermaphroditism at 0.1 ppb in American leopard frogs: Evidence from the laboratory and the wild. Environ. Health. Perspect. 111(4): 1-8.

Hayes, T.B., P. Case, S. Chui, D. Chung, C. Haeffele, K. Haston, M. Lee, V.P. Mai, Y. Marjuoa, J. Parker, M. Tsui (2006) Pesticide mixtures, endocrine disruption, and amphibian declines: are we underestimating the impact? Environ Health Perspect. 114: 40-50.

Fan, W., T. Yanase, H. Morinaga, S. Gondo, T. Okabe, M. Nomura, T. Komatsu, K. Morohashi, T.B. Hayes, R. Takayanagi, H. Nawata (2007) Atrazine-induced aromatase expression is SF-1 dependent: implications for endocrine disruption in wildlife and reproductive cancers in humans. Environ Health Perspect. 115(5):720-7.

Hayes T.B., V. Khoury, A. Narayan, M. Nazir, A. Park, T. Brown, L. Adame, E. Chan, D. Buchholz, T. Stueve, S. Gallipeau (2010) Atrazine induces complete feminization and chemical castration in male African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis). Proc Natl Acad Sci (USA) 107(10):4612-7.

Hayes T.B., L.L. Anderson, V.R. Beasley, S.R. de Solla, T. Iguchi, H. Ingraham, P. Kestemont, J. Kniewald, Z. Kniewald, V.S. Langlois, E.H. Luque, K.A. McCoy, M. Muñoz-de-Toro, T. Oka, C.A. Oliveira, F. Orton, S. Ruby, M. Suzawa, L.E. Tavera-Mendoza, V.L. Trudeau, A.B. Victor-Costa, E. Willingham (2011) Demasculinization and feminization of male gonads by atrazine: consistent effects across vertebrate classes. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 127(1-2):64-73.

If your thinking, why should I care about frogs and frog sex hormones? It has nothing to do with me. As it turns out, frog sex hormones and human sex hormones are very similar. They are so similar in fact that from the 1930s to the 1950s doctors used the African clawed frog as pregnancy tests. When the frogs were injected with the urine of pregnant females, the female frogs would produce eggs. The hormones produced by pregnant females were so similar to frog sex hormones that they caused the female frogs to ovulate. So, if Atrazine can cause frog testosterone to change to frog estrogen, what is it doing to human testosterone and other sex hormones?

There might not be definitive research on the effect of Atrazine on humans and Dr. Hayes work has been questioned. However, I am not willing to be a guinea pig and take risks with my health. I would encourage you to learn everything you can about Atrazine and then make an informed decision about what goes into your body.

Let’s stop blindly shovelling food into our mouths and start paying more attention to what we allow into our bodies.