A pesticide used all over the world, has a nasty habit of gender bending frogs.
Boffins at University of California, Berkeley looking have been looking at atrazine which is one of the world’s most widely used pesticides.
Apparently the chemical castrastes 75 per cent of male frogs and turns 10 percent into lady-boy frogs.
The experiments could possibly be one of the causes of amphibian declines around the globe.
Tyrone Hayes, professor of integrative biology at the university, says this is not just bad news for people who go around kissing frogs, nor for that matter the male frogs.
Apparently the chemical is causes them to lose testosterone and all the things that testosterone controls and could be bad news for humans who don’t want to go the same way.
More than 80 million pounds of atrazine are applied annually in the United States on corn and sorghum to control weeds and increase crop yield. It is the most common pesticide contaminant of ground and surface water.
Hayes began studying the problem about a decade ago. It is only recently that he had the science to identify a genetically male frog to confirm anything like gender reversal had taken place.
It has been linked to low birth weights in humans too. Apparently the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reviewing its regulations on use of the pesticide.
The European Union already bans the use of atrazine so I guess we over here have a more powerful frog lobby.
Syngenta, which manufactures atrazine, disputes the studies. We guess they would argue there is no proof it is their chemical or simply a lifestyle choice on the part of the frogs.µ