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alex avery on atrazine
The following press release from alex avery gives his views on the use
of atrazine in no-till agriculture, avery claims that atrazine use is
sustainable and that removing the herbicide would harm the environment.
Regarding those claims it is worth pointing out that atrazine is a
global pollutant found in groundwater, off-shore waters, the great lakes
waters and it is found at elevated levels in rainfall. Atrazine is
mainly used with corn because that grass is naturally resistant to it.
However, the herbicide persists in soils for years after a corn crop is
produced using the herbicide and soy and other rotation crops cannot
readily be grown on the land treated with atrazine. No till production
of corn for several years running (without rotation) does not seem
desirable to me because of the depletion of nutrients and the build-up
of pathogens. Efforts were made to produce GM atrazine resistant soy to
rotate with corn, but, the GM atrazine resistant soy was found to be
deficient in yield. The atrazine build-up problem is well known in
midwest USA and Canada, I understand that avery may not have been aware
of the problem but no rotation does not seem sustainable even though it
is used no-till.
FROG SEX CLAIMS FLAWED
Press Release by Research and Education at the Center for Global Food Issues
A newly released study by US scientists claims to find a link between a
particular herbicide and hermaphroditism in North American frogs.
However, Alex Avery, Director of Research and Education at the Center for
Global Food Issues says jumping to conclusions could hurt farmers and the
The recent study by Tyrone Hayes and colleagues published in Environmental
Health Perspectives and soon to be published in Nature, purports that low
concentrations of the herbicide atrazine cause hermaphroditism in North
The study suffers from methodological shortcomings and data inadequacies
that make data interpretation difficult and call into question the authors'
conclusions. Scientific research favorably reviewed by the Center for Global
Food Issues released this week also finds this study to be flawed (see paper
Prematurely accepting the authors' conclusions as fact could have profound
effects on farms where atrazine is used to save topsoil, protect water
quality and conserve precious natural resources. Indeed, the vast majority
of published scientific research contradicts the findings of this one
American farmers have successfully used atrazine to increase crop yields
while using less land and fewer resources, such as fossil fuel. Herbicides
such as atrazine allow farmers to use no-tillage weed control methods, which
reduce soil erosion by 65-95%. No-till methods, using selective herbicides
such as atrazine for weed control rather than mechanical methods, have
prevented the erosion of untold billions of tons of topsoil and
significantly improved the water quality in our nations rivers and streams.
These methods enhance the sustainability of our farms and have been endorsed
by agricultural heroes like Norman Borlaug, environmentalists such as
Greenpeace co-founder Dr. Patrick Moore, and Nobel Prize Winner Oscar Arias
Hermaphroditism in frogs is a well-known phenomenon which has been observed
for decades in all parts of the world. There are many reports of frog
hermaphroditism occurring prior to the use of atrazine and in areas where
atrazine has never been used.
According to Alex Avery, Director of Research and Education at the Center
for Global Food Issues (CGFI), many other variables likely play a role in
amphibious hermaphroditism, including temperature, parasites, viruses, and
other natural factors. "Hayes's latest study is reminiscent of recent
peer-reviewed studies that tried to link pesticides to frog limb
abnormalities, but were debunked after further studies found natural
parasitic flatworms to be the cause," Avery said. "Until this work has been
corroborated by other labs, it must be considered preliminary and
Above Referenced Paper Follows.
Comments on the paper entitled "ATRAZINE-INDUCED HERMAPHRODITISM AT 0.1 PPB
IN AMERICAN LEOPARD FROGS (RANA PIPIENS): LABORATORY AND FIELD EVIDENCE" BY
HAYES, T., HASTON, K., TSUI, M., HOANG, A., HAEFFELE, C., AND VONK, A.
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH PERSPECTIVES (HTTP://DX.waOI.ORG, ONLINE 10/23/02).