Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Exposure to atrazine, a commonly used weed killer, increases the risk of reproductive problems in a wide range of animals, says a new review study that analyzed research from around the world.

In earlier studies, various scientists have concluded that the herbicide has gender-bending properties. For instance, some studies showed that male frogs could be turned into females by exposing them to small amounts of atrazine at critical points in their development. But the findings were disputed – especially by the chemical industry.

In response, Tyrone Hayes, a professor of integrative biology at the University of California at Berkeley, urged others studying atrazine to pool their work into a single comprehensive study.

Story continues below advertisement

In total, 22 scientists from North and South America, Europe and Japan contributed to the new study that was published this week in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Dr. Hayes, the lead author of the study, says the research reveals a common association between exposure to the chemical and the "feminization" of male gonads in many animals – including amphibians, reptiles, fish and mammals.

"No science is perfect, but all this research from around the world, done independently in controlled conditions and field studies, points to the same thing," he said. "It doesn't matter if you are a fish or a frog, a cat or a dog, if you are exposed to atrazine, there is a problem." It has huge implications for humans as well, he added.

Val Beasley, a co-author of the study and professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, noted that the chemical has been shown to contaminate groundwater, surface water and even rain (due to dust particles blown into clouds).

"We have to ask ourselves whether we want to continue to be exposed to something like this," said Dr. Beasley.

European countries have already banned atrazine, but it is still widely used to kill weeds in agricultural areas – especially corn fields – in Canada, the United States and more than 60 other countries.

Olivia Caron, a spokesperson for Health Canada, said in an e-mail that the federal agency has received a copy of the study. "Should validated data raise concerns for the use of atrazine in Canada, Health Canada will take action as necessary to protect the health and environment of Canadians. ''

Story continues below advertisement

Dr. Hayes said the herbicide affects many biological processes – not just reproductive systems. With input from more that 40 international scientists, he is already working on a bigger study that explores the impact of atrazine on animal and human health.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies