Tasmanian Times

Environment

Weedkiller atrazine castrates frogs – study

ONE of the most common weed killers in the world, atrazine (Former Deputy Premier Steve Kons once drank atrazine-laced water, HERE), causes chemical castration in frogs and could be contributing to a worldwide decline in amphibian populations.

Researchers compared 40 male control frogs with 40 male frogs reared from hatchlings until full sexual maturity, in atrazine concentrations similar to those experienced year-round in areas where the chemical is found.

Ninety per cent of the male frogs exposed to atrazine had low testosterone levels, decreased breeding gland size, feminised laryngeal development, suppressed mating behavior, reduced sperm production and decreased fertility.

And an alarming finding of the study was that the remaining 10 per cent of atrazine-exposed male frogs developed into females that copulated with males and produced eggs.

The larvae that developed from those eggs were all male, according to the study by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Earlier studies have found that atrazine feminised zebra fish and leopard frogs and caused a significant decline in sperm production in male salmon and caiman lizards.

“Atrazine exposure is highly correlated with low sperm count, poor semen quality and impaired fertility in humans,” the study said.

Atrazine is widely used by farmers around the world as a weed- and grass-killer, particularly in production of corn, sorghum and sugar cane.

According to the Washington-based Natural Resources Defense Council, the chemical herbicide has been banned in the European Union, although advocates for atrazine, who say the weedkiller increases crop yields, say only some European countries have banned it.

Read more HERE

image
An atrazine-induced female frog (a genetic male) is shown (bottom) copulating with an unexposed male sibling. This union produced viable eggs and larvae that survived to metamorphosis and adulthood. Yet, because both animals were genetic males, the offspring were all males. (Tyrone Hayes photo)

Below is the UCBerkley transcript. Read on UCBerkley: HERE

Pesticide atrazine can turn male frogs into females

By Robert Sanders | 1 March 2010

BERKELEY —Atrazine, one of the world’s most widely used pesticides, wreaks havoc with the sex lives of adult male frogs, emasculating three-quarters of them and turning one in 10 into females, according to a new study by University of California, Berkeley, biologists.

The 75 percent that are chemically castrated are essentially “dead” because of their inability to reproduce in the wild, reports UC Berkeley’s Tyrone B. Hayes, professor of integrative biology.

“These male frogs are missing testosterone and all the things that testosterone controls, including sperm. So their fertility is as low as 10 percent in some cases, and that is only if we isolate those animals and pair them with females,” he said. “In an environment where they are competing with unexposed animals, they have zero chance of reproducing.”

The 10 percent or more that turn from males into females – something not known to occur under natural conditions in amphibians – can successfully mate with male frogs but, because these females are genetically male, all their offspring are male.

“When we grow these guys up, depending on the family, we will get anywhere from 10 to 50 percent females,” Hayes said. “In a population, the genetically male females can decrease or wipe out a population just because they skew sex ratios so badly.”

Though the experiments were performed on a common laboratory frog, the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis), field studies indicate that atrazine, a potent endocrine disruptor, similarly affects frogs in the wild, and could possibly be one of the causes of amphibian declines around the globe, Hayes said.

Hayes and his UC Berkeley colleagues report their results in this week’s online early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In last week’s issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology, Hayes and colleagues published a review of the possible causes of a worldwide decline in amphibian populations, concluding that atrazine and other hormone-disrupting pollutants are a likely contributor because they affect recruitment of new individuals and make amphibians more susceptible to disease.

“These kinds of problems, like sex-reversing animals skewing sex ratios, are much more dangerous than any chemical that would kill off a population of frogs,” he said. “In exposed populations, it looks like there are frogs breeding but, in fact, the population is being very slowly degraded by the introduction of these altered animals.”

Some 80 million pounds of the herbicide atrazine are applied annually in the United States on corn and sorghum to control weeds and increase crop yield, but such widespread use also makes atrazine the most common pesticide contaminant of ground and surface water, according to various studies.

More and more research, however, is showing that atrazine interferes with endocrine hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone – in fish, amphibians, birds, reptiles, laboratory rodents and even human cell lines at levels of parts per billion. Recent studies also found a possible link between human birth defects and low birth weight and atrazine exposure in the womb.

As a result of these studies, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reviewing its regulations on use of the pesticide. Several states are considering banning atrazine, and six class action lawsuits have been filed seeking to eliminate its use. The European Union already bars the use of atrazine.

Hayes’s studies in the early 2000s were the first to show that the hormonal effects of atrazine disrupt sexual development in amphibians. Working with the African clawed frog, Hayes and his colleagues showed in 2002 that tadpoles raised in atrazine-contaminated water become hermaphrodites – they develop both female (ovaries) and male (testes) gonads. This occurred at atrazine levels as low as 0.1 parts per billion (ppb), 30 times lower than levels allowed in drinking water by the EPA (3 ppb).

Subsequent studies showed that native leopard frogs (Rana pipiens) collected from atrazine-contaminated streams in the Midwest, including from areas up to 1,000 miles from where atrazine is applied, often had eggs in their testes. And many males had lower testosterone levels than normal females and smaller than normal voice boxes, presumably limiting their ability to call mates.

Hayes’ research also established that many frogs in Midwestern streams contaminated by atrazine and other pesticides have compromised immune systems, leading to increased mortality from bacterial disease.

Those early studies were hampered by the inability to easily distinguish genetically male from genetically female frogs. Male frogs have two identical sex chromosomes (ZZ) while females have both a Z and a W – the opposite of XX female and XY male humans. But because all frog chromosomes look the same under a light microscope, it’s not simple to distinguish male from female.

To overcome this, Hayes’ colleague Roger Liu developed a line of all-male frogs so that the genetics would be unequivocal.

“Before, we knew we got fewer males than we should have, and we got hermaphrodites. Now, we have clearly shown that many of these animals are sex-reversed males,” Hayes said. “We have animals that are females, in the sense that they behave like females: They have estrogen, lay eggs, they mate with other males. Atrazine has caused a hormonal imbalance that has made them develop into the wrong sex, in terms of their genetic constitution.”

Coincidentally, another lab in 2008 discovered a sex-linked genetic marker in Xenopus, which has allowed Hayes to confirm the genetic sex of his frogs.

In Hayes’ study, where 40 frogs lived for about three years after hatching in water with 2.5 ppb atrazine, about 10 percent of the frogs appeared to be resistant to the effects of the pesticide. In ongoing studies, Hayes is investigating whether this apparent resistance is inherited, as well as whether the sex-reversed males have more susceptible offspring.

Syngenta, which manufactures atrazine, disputes many of these studies, including Hayes’, that show adverse effects of the pesticide. But Hayes said that “when you have studies all over the world showing problems with atrazine in every vertebrate that has been looked at – fish, frogs, reptiles, birds, mammals – all of them can’t be wrong.”

“What people have to realize is that, just as with taking pharmaceuticals, they have to decide whether the benefits outweigh the costs,” he said. “Not every frog or every human will be affected by atrazine, but do you want to take a chance, what with all the other things that we know atrazine does, not just to humans but to rodents and frogs and fish?”

Hayes’ long-term studies of the effects of atrazine on frogs have been assisted by many UC Berkeley students, including co-authors on the current paper: undergraduates Vicky Khoury, Anne Narayan, Mariam Nazir, Andrew Park, Lillian Adame and Elton Chan; and graduate students Travis Brown, Daniel Buchholz, Sherrie Gallipeau and Theresa Stueve.

The work was funded by the Park Water Co., Mitch Kapor, Freada Klein, the Mitch Kapor Foundation, the David Foundation, the Cornell-Douglas Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, the UC Berkeley Class of ’43 endowed chair and the Howard Hughes Biology Fellows Program.

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]
47 Comments

47 Comments

  1. sabina01

    March 6, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Last one, promise:

    (o) Mark said: “Government Senator Kerry O’Brien later raised this in the Senate, where he observed blah, blah…”

    S01: MP didn’t go on to say that the same senator, a Labor senator, one who might want to help his state-Labor mates, the who is so concerned about the public and how derelict in their duty Scammell and Bleaney are went on to vote down an independent enquiry by the Senate. Now why would the senator do that? My, my, another convenient oversight of all the facts.

    (p) Mark said “…Tasmania’s clean and green image…ruined blah, blah..”

    S01: The Tasmanian govt has done this all on their own. If they didn’t have scandal after scandal around forestry then there would be no traction with the public in the first place. Holiday makers leave aghast at the rape and pillage of clearfelling, burning etc. Why do you think the ferries are empty? The word is already out mate. No amount of spin can fix what people see with their own eyes.

    All together now:

    “Come here rude boy, boy can you get it up?
    Come here rude boy, boy is you big enough?

    Take it, take it, take it,

    Love,

    Me.”

  2. sabina01

    March 6, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Part Three

    (g) Mark said: “Implying that genetic improvement of Eucalyptus nitens plantation trees was responsible for increasing their toxicity: Although “Something in the Water” used the term “genetically improved” in relation to plantation trees, many viewers appear to have interpreted this as being akin to “genetically modified”. Tasmania’s plantation trees have been genetically improved over several generations by selective tree breeding for desirable traits by using seed from individuals which possess these traits. This is vastly different from genetic modification (or GM) in which genetic profiles are altered by grafting in genes from other organisms.”

    S01: Scammell was quoting the term that the marketers of MIS schemes use. If there is confusion in the community about what they mean then the industry needs to address that. Posters on Tasmanian Times have debated this at length. Where does one find a tree that thinks it is a good idea to produce less lignin so that it is less successful at reaching the canopy to get light and food? Volker has told us that they were bred for this characteristic (among others). Let’s follow this through: A tree was found that would ordinarily have failed in nature because it has less lignin; another one found that is less palatable to possums etc and they were crossed using traditional methods? What does this nurtured freak, going by the name of e. nitens, do when grown en masse? Does anyone know? Show us how the risks were assessed.

    (h) Mark said: “Eucalyptus nitens is a naturally-occuring species in Melbourne’s water supply catchments.”

    S01: MP fails to mention that Melbourne’s catchment is a natural mixed forest which contains nitens amongst many other species. Really, this sloppiness is a bit more than a habit, isn’t it? Quite selectively misleading.

    (i) Mark said ..”there should be little difference in leaf chemistry between these natural forests and the trees growing in Tasmanian plantations beyond natural variations due to age.”

    S01: Hickey answered this one on AS. The leaves make different foam. The selective breeding programme, in promoting a particular trait, would account for this presumably. Secondary metabolites I think they are called.

    (j)Mark said “To be fair, “Something in the Water” used a term that is frequently used by the plantation industry. However, it was derelict in not seeking clarification from the industry as to what genetic improvement actually means.”

    S01: So what does it mean? Freak nitens that wouldn’t usually thrive being planted in their thousands? Very hard to get a straight answer on this one.

    (k) Mark said: “Wrongly implying that plantation management is a factor in the Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour Disease: Since then research by the Menzies Institute and the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program has shown that DFTD is not caused or influenced by the use of pesticides in the management of forestry plantations..”

    S01: Really? That is truly news. It must completely contradict Obendorf and McGlashen (Eur. J. Oncol., vol. 13, n. 4, pp. 229-238, 2008).

    (l)Mark said:”Certainly, Australian Story appears to have made little effort to canvas views about these matters beyond the opinions of Drs Bleaney and Scammell. They did not even contact the peak Tasmanian forest industry body, FIAT, until Thursday, February 11, just days before the first episode was to be screened on the following Monday, February 15.”

    S01: Here comes the media conspiracy. It was run up the flagpole on Tasmanian Times but MP is saluting most persistently. The programme said that the Govt declined to comment and they posted FIAT’s letter.

    (m) Mark said: “It is thought that the program was actually filmed last year, but was held over to be screened during the Tasmanian election campaign.”

    S01: Conspiracy theory alert. We could all see Dr Bleaney rugged up in one shot, suggesting cold weather – we assume in 2009. While MP is not expected to have local knowledge, all of St Helens could tell you that a very covert operation was undertaken by the ABC. Filming in the middle of the school holidays, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the main street in Jan 2010. Those sly dogs. Suggests to me that they hadn’t finished the story in 2009. Did MP pick up the phone or keyboard to maybe check with the ABC even if he doesn’t know anyone in the area? Even Dr Bleaney or Scammell? Mayor Legge? I guess not. Really, this sloppiness is more than habitual.

    (n) Mark said: “He was referred to their lawyers.”

    S01: Well, can you blame them for wanting the govt to say “please”? Aside from that, there is an anonymous donor so that suggests that the results belong to whoever paid for them.

  3. sabina01

    March 6, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    Part Two

    5. MP said “AS… has ignored, downplayed, dealt with improperly, or failed to fully present key evidence that would otherwise have put the threat of plantation forestry into its proper perspective.
    Instances of this include:
    (a) A failure to acknowledge the small extent of plantation in the George River catchment:…”

    S01: This has been dealt with on Tasmanian Times two weeks ago. Five per cent is out of date data and doesn’t take into account private forests on farmers’ land etc. If the St Helens catchment is materially smaller and still toxic then that is even more alarming for other locations. In terms of the 5%, we’ll let that one through to the keeper. If that’s the most recent public data, so be it even if other discussion has cast doubt on it as a valid measure.

    b) MP said: “A failure to acknowledge the potential impact of non-forestry threats in the George River catchment:…”

    S01: It is true that forestry is not the only activity and if it was say, atrizine as the culprit, that users other than forestry might apply it. Trouble is, the samples were taken down stream of forestry and upstream of other users precisely so that the tests weren’t confounded by others in the catchment. No mention of that.

    (c) MP said: “Misrepresentation of the state of public health in St Helens and surrounding areas: ….None could be found by the reviewer, Associate Professor, Dr Malcolm Sim, of Monash University but this was not acknowledged in the program.”

    S01: Dr Bleaney has answered this herself on Tasmanian Times. No mention by MP that Dr Bleaney has said that the review was not as comprehensive as MP is asserting. Oh well. I guess those that briefed him left that information out of the package.

    (c)MP said:” …also ignored the latest annual report published by the Tasmanian Cancer Registry which shows no statistically significant differences in the incidence rates of common cancers for persons living in the Break O’Day municipality within which St Helens is located, compared to Tasmania as a whole.”

    S01: This has been dealt with on Tasmanian Times as well. Tasmania now has the highest incidence of cancer compared with the rest of Australia. Northern Territory included. If the whole State has ratcheted up then this is cold comfort. ‘The latest annual report’ is 2006 data as well. That wasn’t pointed out by MP either.

    (d) MP said: “Misrepresentation of the Tasmanian Government as being indifferent to Dr Bleaney’s concerns…Conversely, Dr Scammell’s more damning finding appears to have been based only on samples taken downstream of the plantations because his upstream sample had a chain of custody documentation issue and could not be used…”

    S01: MP seems to think that if the result supports your finding, you should use samples which have chain of custody issues. The whole point of using NATA-accredited laboratories is so that the results can be relied upon. This is a red herring. The point is that the samples – both downstream of plantations and from the Crystal Creek site were shared between DIPWE and the NATA-acc Lab. The Crystal Creek site failed Chain of Custody and thus could not be used (Scammell made this clear in 2005). It wasn’t ‘his’ sample. It was taken by DPIWE on their own initiative. Both parties came up with the same results for all other sites but there was no valid reference site. DPIWE decided that since the toxin was ‘natural’, it was okay to down tools. Scammell/Bleaney pressed on to know why. They sampled St Mary’s as a reference site and found St Mary’s was fine. Repeated sampling has found continued toxicity. Go read the programme’s transcript.

    (e) MP said:”… a Community Consultative Committee on Water Quality was established and funded…:”

    S01: MP doesn’t mention that most of the members resigned from the committee.

    (f)MP said:”River health is routinely monitored in Tasmania …trace levels, with nothing exceeding the levels required for healthy drinking water. Again, this was not mentioned in the program.”

    S01: MP doesn’t mention that others have agreed (like biosecurity chief Alex Schaap) that the testing is designed to find nothing and yet it still does. Also, testing for chemicals off a shopping list is so passé as to be laughable. MP hasn’t done any research into Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

    (g) MP said: “Despite all these efforts, a central theme of “Something in the Water” was that Drs Bleaney and Scammell were ignored and have had to battle on against government indifference to their concerns.”

    S01: When you see how openly and honestly these issues are debated, it’s a mystery isn’t it?

  4. sabina01

    March 6, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    Folks, as you know, I like a bit of a sing-a-long so in the interests of summarising my riposte to the hilarious ‘article’ by Mark Poynter that Barry drew our attention to in #35, I call on Rihanna’s current hit Rude Boy.
    I do want to make it clear though that I am not calling Mr Poynter’s manhood into question as Rihanna is doing. The ‘it’ for the purpose of my summary is Mr Poynter’s arguments.

    Apologies for the length and snooze warning given.

    “Come here rude boy, boy can you get it up?
    Come here rude boy, boy, is you big enough?

    Take it, take it, take it,

    Love,

    Me.

    In short, the answers to the questions posed are No and No.

    Part one:

    1. MP said “While Australian Story portrayed Dr Bleaney as a public health altruist, it ignored her history of activism…”

    S01: Mark forgot to mention that she is also a local Councillor; has been very involved in lobbying APVMA re atrizine; has put out leaflets re pesticides/herbicides and other publications etc. Was MP ignorant of this or would acknowledging same add weight to an impression of a person who is passionate and determined to be involved in her community? Let’s park this one for now. We’ll put it down to sloppy research/ignorance.

    2. MP said: ..”In response to Bleaney and Scammell’s 2004 report, the Tasmanian government commissioned an independent review by University of Queensland academic, Professor Paolo Ricci…”

    S01: Ahh, Paolo. No-one knew who he was when he was here and he was on his way out of the country (not to return). I think his expertise was population statistics. Unfortunately, there had been a helicopter crash loaded with chemicals and a large flood. Stuff died. Lots of it. Another govt report (Percival) is not mentioned by MP. It did not rule out chemical contamination as the cause of the kill Trouble was that by then it had all been washed out to sea. Ignorance again? Sloppy research? Too much reliance on one source for ‘research’?

    3. MP: “The Sunday program was screened during the final weeks of the 2004 Federal election campaign in which Tasmanian forestry was a prominent issue.”

    S01: Media conspiracy alert. The notable feature I recall about the programme was Jana Wendt telling us that the Premier of the time, Big Red, was trying to get an injunction. Let’s give MP this one. Either Bleaney and Scammell have the power to influence major media houses or that major media houses have it in for Forestry and so they got lucky on the issue. Did Kerry have it in for Tasmania, forestry, Big Red? Maybe he was the editorial influence.

    4. MP: “While the past history of this issue provides some insight into its proponents, it does not necessarily invalidate their now updated hypothesis.”
    S01: Agreed.

  5. Dr Barry Tomkins

    March 4, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    Re #42: And what ‘facts’ do you state?? None – basically bluster and hyperbole. “They weren’t looking for any? – Really and – ‘they couldn’t detect any” – Hmm! Slight contradiction there!

    Re # William Boeder: “why must the people of Tasmania be afflicted by the use of such chemicals, particularly those that are edging toward known illegal use and or are in fact dangerous to the health of much in this State?” Known illegal use??

    Hello? Tasmanian is unique??? Edging toward KNOWN illegal use? Dangerous to the health etc??? Proof? Really? Legal is legal, illegal is illegal. Oh, yeah, right, there is a genetic predisposition to effects of chemicals in Tasmania that is not common to the rest of Australia??? I don’t give that any credence (there are maybe some on the mainland who would!).

    William, the use of these products in Australia be they for agriculture, horticulture, industrial, domestic, turf/sports grounds, and plantation forestry is the same for all States and Territories. Your perspective seems to be that ‘things are different in Tasmanian’. Not so. The prescribed rates of registered pesticides in the temperate zones for E. nitens, E. globulus, E. regnans, radiata pine are the same in Vic, SA, Wa, NSW, ACT.

    What is unique about Tasmania is that, leaving aside the special circumstances of the indigenous population of the NT, and the fact that it is an island, Tasmanian has the lowest socio-economic status of all the States and Territories. Tasmania is a mendicant State.

    For example, a paper (2006, if I recall correctly) on the Menzies Institute site indicated that around 21% of women in Tasmania smoked, compared to the national average of 16.3%. That is indicative of a different, arguably lower, socio-economic status, and is indicative of a higher rate of smoking induced illnesses.

    Yes- Tasmanian health statistics are not wonderful but in this advanced country are not that much different to some regions on the mainland where the average population age is also higher than the norm.

    Lindsay, if it is OK for Gerry Mander to comment “I think, Dr Tomkins, you would make a good Swedish Blue Parrot salesman!” – then it ought to be OK for me to suggest that his own credentials as a salesman are questionable. I did not use those words, but I question balance.

    I said earlier -” I have no doubt someone will find fault here, inevitably given that so many posts are based on belief and not evidence or fact.” Gerry Mander says a lot that has nothing to do with evidence or fact, and apparently it is OK for him to cast aspersions and innuendo such as “Pretty blatant example there of messenger shooting over three pages without stating a single real fact!” and (evidence) “Under test conditions with scientists in attendance, of course they do it according to instructions. Out in the bush this is a totally different story” and “You are starting to show your true colours “. And what are my true colours?

    Lindsay – a little better balance, please!

    Simple, really, my true colours are that I believe in the democratic right of our elected officials to oversee properly constituted bodies. Bodies who are given the powers to regulate, as independently as possible. I believe in the legal process. I believe that the majority of people want processes that preclude domination by a vocal and often ill-informed minority.

    Gerry Mander – I am taking a leaf out of Dr Kevin Bonham’s book and I will not be responding to any further posts from you. Read post #29 again.

    Dr Barry Tomkins

  6. steve

    March 4, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Agent orange was legally dumped on vietnam [comment edited]

  7. Gerry Mander

    March 4, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Re #34 Gerry Mander: You are confused [comment deleted]

    On the contrary Dr Tomkins – your are blustering and trying to shift blame and are in denial. You are starting to show your true colours – and they ain’t green!

    Drs Bleaney and Scammell have specifically stated that the alleged toxin is not a pesticide – they couldn’t detect any.

    They weren’t looking for any. They were trying to establish a base for reference and were expecting the water to be pure. It was the dry season, remember? The leaf toxins were an addition and unexpected.

    Anyway, as you say, it’s like shouting in a vacuum. You have your agenda and are sticking to it – like your mate on onlineopinion. Pretty blatant example there of messenger shooting over three pages without stating a single real fact!

  8. Water Wizard

    March 4, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    A partial solution is a pipe that goes up river from town’s water supplies to a level above the tree line. Town water would be picked up at that point and be distributed to each water authority on the river. For most town’s in Tasmania the length of pipe involved would be under 40km. The additional head would mean distribution without pumping.

    The pipe would be located in the river, so the river level should remain the same. Where the river bed dries out for parts of the year the pipe would be buried. The amount of water being extracted is the same. The water quality would be far higher, perhaps pristine. So the pay off is better health for people and animals that get access to pristine water.

  9. Dr Barry Tomkins

    March 4, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Re #33 Steve: No mention of year, per ha rate etc etc. The chemicals are legal, full stop. Their use at the time was legal, still is, and the detection levels have been very low. Once again, Dr Bleaney can provide no real evidence linking health problems, and not suppositions, to her claims about pesticides in the Tasmanian environment. [comment deleted]

    Re #34 Gerry Mander: Are you now saying the filter is for herbicides? Drs Bleaney and Scammell have specifically stated that the alleged toxin is not a pesticide – they couldn’t detect any.

    You are confused! [comment deleted]

    Dr Barry Tomkins

  10. William Boeder

    March 4, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Dr. Barry Tomkins, you are quite powerful in your supportive and advocative opinions re these particular brands or form of chemicals.
    I also note that some degree of anger is inherent in your postings in this matter of poisons use.

    However, my point to you that seems somehow to ‘fly through to the keeper,’ is why must the people of Tasmania be afflicted by the use of such chemicals, particularly those that are edging toward known illegal use and or are in fact dangerous to the health of much in this State?

    Well may you be the best diagnostician and or learned person in matters of chemical usage, their concentrations and all manner of detail, that is not being contested here.

    What is being contested and of course roundly disputed against, are the prolific references of unsupervised dispersal of said chemicals and in the concentrations of said chemicals dispersed, that you are hell-bent on telling us of which you alone believe are only ever used in minimal and or minor concentrations, therefore best if we don’t worry about it all?

    One man alone cannot supervise accurately, nor tellingly, that of all this State’s methods, mixes, dispersals, oversprays and probable contaminations etc, do actually occur in the manner you are so strongly suggesting?
    Do remember that the many comments made by individuals on this matter of contaminants, are definitely not subservient forestry employees, nor are they strictly confined to the realm of obliging farm-hands.

  11. Gerry Mander

    March 4, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    #34. Detections of atrazine have been at very low levels, as you well know. Again however, you ignore my major point which is that forestry use is minor compared to crop uses, yet the criticism is directed solely at plantation use…. Barry Tomkins

    In this instance YES. I see you have avoided Dr Bleaney’s comment:-

    32.Barry FYI – – soil at edge of eucalypt plantation in upper George River catchment, and sediments from tributary coming from same and down the length of the George River showed evidence of use of atrazine and simazine. These are factual lab results. No pine here and no agriculture for many, many kilometres.

    #33 I poured tonnes of the stuff into the chopper it looked just like milk and over spray events were easily seen and common.

    So much for your greenwash attempts! What we have are GENUINE reports of atrazine, simazine and biological poisoning in the George River, and a concerted attempt by all Forestry and Government minions to play this down, discredit the facts and shoot the messengers. However, in a tacit acknowledgment that there is a problem, a carbon filter has been installed in the the St Hellens water supply. But it doesn’t help the people who have already contracted the diseases and no amount of technical humbug will bring the oysters back to life.

    I think, Dr Tomkins, you would make a good Swedish Blue Parrot salesman!

  12. Gerry Mander

    March 4, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    I hope Dr Barry Tomkins will take time to peruse comment #33 !!

  13. Dr Barry Tomkins

    March 4, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    I hope readers will take the time to peruse the following:

    http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10135

    Dr Barry Tomkins

  14. Dr Barry Tomkins

    March 4, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Re #32: Dr Bleaney – I think you will find that I have noted that atrazine is registered/labeled for use in eucalypt plantations, therefore such use is legal.

    Detections of atrazine have been at very low levels, as you well know. Again however, you ignore my major point which is that forestry use is minor compared to crop uses, yet the criticism is directed solely at plantation use.

    The (by far) most frequently detected herbicide in Tasmania is MCPA, but the amount of ‘research’ done by comparison is minute.

    Dr Barry Tomkins

  15. steve

    March 4, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Atrizine and symazine were used pre and post planting of nitens above the falls in the georges river catchment .It was mixed with water and sprayed from a chopper,four wheeled motor bike and back pack.I poured tonnes of the stuff into the chopper it looked just like milk and over spray events were easily seen and common.I was not the only person who worked there if you need more facts.

  16. Alison Bleaney

    March 4, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Barry FYI – – soil at edge of eucalypt plantation in upper George River catchment, and sediments from tributary coming from same and down the length of the George River showed evidence of use of atrazine and simazine. These are factual lab results. No pine here and no agriculture for many, many kilometres. If atrazine is not being used….what on earth is going on?
    Dr Alison Bleaney

  17. Dr Barry Tomkins

    March 4, 2010 at 12:17 am

    Re #30: Sabinao1: You are persistent, if not knowledgeable. Atrazine is not used any differently in Tasmania than elsewhere, although there are differences in crops, as I have indicated before. Atrazine is not usually used in eucalypt establishment. It is primarily, in plantation forestry, used in the establishment/re-establishment of Radiata pine plantations, on low woody weed sites. It is then usually applied as either a spray treatment or as a dry granule that breaks down and is activated by rainfall.

    The biggest users in pine are SA and NSW. There is very little used in Vic. HVP Plantations do not use it. There is a little used on the Victorian side of the Green Triangle by SA based forestry plantation companies. Use in Tasmania is very small. As I have noted, FT and Norske Skog don’t use it. There is probably more used in Tasmania in potatoes, barley, wheat, millet and canola and other – around 25,000 hectares but not all use it – there are alternatives for these crops. National use is around 2000 to 2500 tonnes per annum, with up to 65% of that in canola (biggest areas for canola are in WA and NSW). Other major crops are sugar cane and sorghum. Australia does not have a huge corn crop but it is the major herbicide in that crop also.

    Plantation forestry use best estimate nationally today is not more than 40 tonnes pa. I would be surprised if Tas use in plantations was more than 5 tonnes. Gunns don’t have extensive plantations of pine compared to eucalypts, and FEA, I think, none or almost none. I don’t know about private growers. I haven’t looked up recent ABARE or ABS stats.

    It is very likely that crop and other uses are considerably more than plantation use in Tasmania.

    Rates – the usual rate in pine is 4.5 kg a.i./ha but in combination with 1.5 kg a.i./ha of hexazinone. The dry granule product, Forest Mix G, is formulated so that 30 kg of product contains these amounts, but the same mix is applied from atrazine product and hexazinone product by spraying. That being said, a lot of operators prefer aerial application of the dry granule because it is not prone to any drift.

    I have no doubt someone will find fault here, inevitably given that so many posts are based on belief and not evidence or fact. I really don’t know why I bother to try to educate these people, given the denial and abuse that is returned —-

    Dr Barry Tomkins

  18. sabina01

    March 3, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Can we have some reliable data in Tasmania Barry as to how it is used and applied rather than anecdotes about NSW. You seem to be comparing apples with oranges.

  19. slaked lime

    March 3, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    “#25. All of this is just a diversion from the real problem” says Gerry. Frustrated at getting repeatedly shot down, Jerry? Barry’s Spitfire now has got a string of ME109 outline stickers down the side of the canopy. Take my advice: Don’t take the maestro on about spray mixes and rig technology!

    Why would anyone waste money putting atrazine on at 40 times the label rate? Apply a little logic testing to what you write.

  20. Dr Barry Tomkins

    March 3, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Re #26: Your arithmetic is rather shonky.180 kg a.i./ha in 100 L/ha application is 1.8 kg a.i./L. Very thick suspension; 3 kg a.i./ha at 60 L/ha application even thicker.

    It is a poison – Schedule 5, a weed killing poison.

    Only you can correct your irrationality.

    Dr Barry Tomkins

  21. Gerry Mander

    March 3, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    #25. All of this is just a diversion from the real problem – Atrazine is poison, whatever strength it is used in. This, it seems, you are NOT prepared to admit. Whether or not someone said that they mix it 40 times stronger than recommended is actually irrelevant. The real issue is that it used at all!

  22. Gerry Mander

    March 3, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    #23. If 40 times the prescribed rate of product was used at normal volumes, usually 60- 100 L/ha, the by-pass and the nozzles would immediately block.

    More nonsense. You are quoting the payload, not the density of the solution. The actual amount of atrazine per litre is very small, and even 40 times the strength would not be a great deal. If it is a ‘creamed suspension’ and goes through an agitator, it would remain in suspension and would not block the nozzles. You are not pushing lumps of the stuff through, this is still a solution, albeit a slightly thicker one, but the individual size of the ‘cream’ components do not get bigger.

    Try again, this time using REAL data!

  23. Dr Barry Tomkins

    March 3, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Re #15, Gerry Mander quote: ‘but I remember a forestry worker being quoted as saying, ‘this is really good stuff. We mix it at about forty times what is recommended on the label.’

    You must like having your leg pulled! Apart from the inevitable equipment problems, and the cost! – 40 times the usual rate of atrazine in plantations (usually pine post-planting) would be 180 kg a.i./ha!

    Nothing would grow for ? years, and it would kill the crop trees!

    Lindsay, can I get away with the words ‘sucker bait’?

    Dr Barry Tomkins

  24. Gerry Mander

    March 3, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    ‘So while atrazine has been withdrawn from use in the EU, it was not subject to any formal assessment process.’ … Dr Barry Tomkins.

    The ‘withdrawal from use’ was not a voluntary thing, it was mandatory, which in almost anybody’s book except yours, means it was banned.

    It was banned as there was no manufacturers information or warnings available on human toxic effects, although Dr Hayes research on the chemical castration of frogs and the effects on small lab animals was widely known. Syngenta, the manufacturer of this chemical effectively lobbied through the auspices of Jim J. Tozzi and succeeded in LEGALLY PREVENTING atrazine from being tested by any laboratory in USA as a cancer causing chemical.

    Quote: Washinton Post. ‘In June, Tozzi filed his latest Data Quality Act petition.

    This time it was directed at the National Toxicology Program. That is a part of the National Institutes of Health that reviews chemicals to see if they cause cancer.

    The program had announced in the Federal Register that atrazine was among a long list of chemicals that it was considering for examination. In his petition, Tozzi seized on a few sentences from the program’s description of its chemical review procedures. He claimed that those sentences contained discrepancies that violated the Data Quality Act.

    Therefore, he wrote, the program should be barred from reviewing the cancer-causing potential of any chemicals. In particular, the petition noted, atrazine.’

    Another comment from Dr Tomkins: ‘What a ridiculous comment. I have measured amounts for an aerial helicopter spraying trial on site in NSW and I know just how careful the operators are to get it right. The record keeping is meticulous – has to be or the operators would lose their license.’

    Under test conditions with scientists in attendance, of course they do it according to instructions. Out in the bush this is a totally different story. Who is there to check that the right amount of water is added to the mix? The quote I gave earlier is a genuine reported quote. Apart from that, who in Tasmania listens to inspectors? Here they vilify them – officially – and then sack them if their reports aren’t in keeping with what the Government, Forestry and Gunns wants!

    Like Drs Scammell and Bleaney, Dr Hayes had personally a great deal to lose by publishing his findings and flying in the face of a powerful chemical company and officialdom. It is through the persistence of people like this, that the real situation eventually gets exposure. To attack them rather than to support them in their endeavours, I see as mischievous, unwarranted and typical of the underhand treatment meted out by officials in the pay of authorites or commerce. After all, it is our lives and futures they are putting at risk!

  25. Dr Barry Tomkins

    March 3, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Re#15, 17, 18: Gerry Mander, Sabina01, Boeder: Atrazine product is either a wettable granule or a creamed suspension. When mixed with water, the mixture needs to be constantly agitated to keep the chemical in suspension – it is not very soluble, only 33 milligram per litre at normal temperature.

    A by-pass agitator is used in spraying systems for these sorts of products. If 40 times the prescribed rate of product was used at normal volumes, usually 60- 100 L/ha, the by-pass and the nozzles would immediately block.

    That is why comments like yours are so absurd.

    Dr Barry Tomkins

  26. mary

    March 3, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    David (comment #3) maybe I can suggest you read my post instead of assumming that I am attacking #4. I was actually stating that a well reaearched scientific study such as this one is EXACTLY what is needed. My reference to half baked science is in relation to the Georges River debarcle.

  27. William Boeder

    March 3, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    With respect to you Mr crf, #19.Tthe bizarre relates to the supposed need to spray with chemicals, all and every flora nowadays, this includes food crops the humble vegie patch, the broad-acre serial crops etc, as well as the forest plantations here and around the world.

    All this is done because Mr Monsanto, or Union- Carbide or who ever out there, that tell the people of the world what they must do to protect their product?
    Time for you to take a lateral step into the real world of agriculture, silviculture, horticulture, viticulture and all the other ‘so called but not quite appropriately named cultural aspects.’

    Futhermore you think my repeat of the comment from a person actually at the coal-face is cause for me to pull your chain?
    My reply to your impertinent comment is that there well may be a number of persons who are pulling something other than chains, eg: puppet-strings.

    Perhaps you might tell us all how often your mates in the forestry industry have pulled the wool over the eyes of the Tasmanian citizens?

  28. Dr Barry Tomkins

    March 3, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Re#18. I am well aware of the Hayes claims; I was from the outset, when it was first reported.

    I’m not filling the choppers? What a ridiculous comment. I have measured amounts for an aerial helicopter spraying trial on site in NSW and I know just how careful the operators are to get it right. The record keeping is meticulous – has to be or the operators would lose their license. The flight lines are logged by GPS and recorded, weather parameters are carefully detailed etc. Frankly, you wouldn’t have a clue as to the organization that goes into the operations. Your comments are becoming more bizarre. Boeder’s is laughable.

    As to #5 & #8: I have posted this a couple of times previously, but it is like shouting in a vacuum:

    In 1991 the EU commenced a major review of around 1000 key chemicals that were sold in pesticide products in Europe at that time. Manufacturers were asked to submit a wide range of data on these chemicals and submit it for analysis to regulatory authorities.

    The review of atrazine commenced in 1996. Despite favourable reviews of its safety, atrazine was excluded from the review process in 2003 because the information that was submitted in support of its continued registration did not include sufficient water monitoring data. More particularly, the data was unable to demonstrate that concentrations of atrazine in groundwater in some parts of Europe would not exceed 0.1 parts per billion. Under the EU system no further opportunity was provided to allow the manufacturers to supply this data. Accordingly, atrazine was withdrawn from the market before being assessed.

    The 0.1 ppb level was an arbitrary standard set in 1980 and applied to all pesticides regardless of their safety profile. The nominal health value later set in Europe for atrazine in water was 15 ppb.

    Some 670 other chemicals were similarly withdrawn because of data gaps or because manufacturers chose not to supply data in the first place. Some 320 chemicals with complete data packages were assessed with some 250 being approved.

    So while atrazine has been withdrawn from use in the EU, it was not subject to any formal assessment process. It was not banned. Human health issues played no role in its withdrawal. Indeed, preliminary reviews in relation to human health and eco toxicology were favourable.
    Neither was the 0.1 ppb limit for atrazine in groundwater a relevant human health issue.

    Atrazine could potentially be reregistered in the EU if manufacturers supplied the water monitoring data that was missing in 2003.

    Politically, of course, this would not be acceptable, despite the expert EU committee having recommended that it could be retained.

    Atrazine has not been banned in Europe. Another triazine, terbuthylazine, is now preferred.

    Dr Barry Tomkins

  29. crf

    March 3, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Boeder, who’s being bizzare? A hearsay quote from someone who claimed they loaded helicopters with atrazine at 40 times the label rate is taken seriously? Stop pulling our chain.

  30. sabina01

    March 3, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Re 16, Yeah Barry. You’re not here filling the choppers. How would you know?

    Even if FT doesn’t use it, they aren’t the only one’s here.

    Re 10, if you think that the APVMA or Tas Govt will take any notice of this study then you are very new to the debate. Dr Hayes gets on a daily basis from his detractors what Bleaney and Scammell get here. All in the name of debate you understand. If you think that his results are startling and new then you’d be mistaken there too.

  31. William Boeder

    March 2, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    #16 With respect here Dr Barry Tomkins, you are stating the unknown, if the forestry worker said, ‘we mix it at about 40 times what it recommended on the label,’ that in itself carries the same validity as your claims of pernicious nonsense. Claim Vs counter-claim.

    Do remember Dr Tomkins, Tasmania had managed to grow enormous endurable forests for thousands of years, without any chemical controls.
    Why must the people of Tasmania be the recipients or even victims of today’s forestry industry turpitudes?
    The only winners from this bizarre need to blast all and every growing flora with chemicals, are in fact the giant overseas chemical corporations,

  32. Dr Barry Tomkins

    March 2, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Re#15: Humbug! Rates used are prescribed on label. Rates, whether they be for potatoes, barley, canola, millet (all grown in Tasmania), sugar cane, sorghum, or pine or eucalypt plantations, are specific for each crop. Atrazine is not usually used in establishing eucalypt plantations. The two major pine growers in Tasmania, FT and Norske, don’t use it. If it is used in pine establishment it is only in the first two years, then not again for the 30 year rotation.

    It is not sprayed at higher concentrations in Tasmania than are recommended or used elsewhere. Pernicious nonsense!

    Dr Barry Tomkins

  33. Gerry Mander

    March 2, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    ‘In Tasmania atrazine is much more persistent than in warmer climates; so why do we in Tasmania still take the chance?’

    In Tasmania we also spray it at higher concentrations than are recommended or allowed elsewhere. We also mix it with a host of other substances as well. When a helicopter crashed a few years ago and dropped its chemical load, it was found to contain a mix of nasties which had never been tested in this form. It was never considered necessary for forestry to release the details of these mixes or their strength, but I remember a forestry worker being quoted as saying, ‘this is really good stuff. We mix it at about forty times what is recommended on the label.’

  34. alison bleaney

    March 2, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    “What people have to realize is that, just as with taking pharmaceuticals, they have to decide whether the benefits outweigh the costs,” he said. “Not every frog or every human will be affected by atrazine, but do you want to take a chance, what with all the other things that we know atrazine does, not just to humans but to rodents and frogs and fish?”

    This is THE issue.

    In Tasmania atrazine is much more persistent than in warmer climates; so why do we in Tasmania still take the chance?

  35. David Obendorf

    March 2, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Mary [comment #10], could I suggest you read all the peer-reviewed science articles on this topic….no scare tactics from Pete Godfrey [comment #4] one person’s observations on the gatekeeping of science in Tasmania; and I concur.

    This suppression of science has to stop! Obama’s administration has given the US EPA new regulatory ethics to support their registrations on chemicals…Tasmanian (and Australian) chemical regulators will come limping along by default.

  36. David Obendorf

    March 2, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    If Tasmanian Times want to read more about this toxic triazines and their potential impact of Tasmanian frogs and other biota go to the Pollution Information Tasmania – wikipedia website – check out triazines in the section on ‘Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals’.

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Pollution_Information_Tasmania

    Tasmanians are living in a ‘fools’ paradise’.

    The natural paradise was real, but we’re foolish to allow it to be so abused.

  37. Dismord

    March 2, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Maybe we should force feed it to Bartlet & Co.

  38. mary

    March 2, 2010 at 11:50 am

    #4 Maybe because actual studies (like this one) are what is needed. Hysteria is not the answer, nor is half baked ideas dressed up as science and propagated in the media as scare tactics and electioneering.

  39. John McDonald

    March 2, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Get with the program – didn’t you see Australian Story – it isn’t the pesticides – it’s the triffids, sorry, trees! Raze those trees!!!

  40. Gerry Mander

    March 2, 2010 at 12:57 am

    Atrazine has been banned in Europe for years of course.

    As you say, ‘of course’.

    That is the home of the Frogs’!

    Here it is more effective on politicians, especially when dealing with the demands of the forest industry!

  41. Christopher Purcell

    March 1, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Does this mean we could end up with a STEVIE Kons? Are they REALLY just man-boobs…? Are those high notes just a touch of laryngitis…? Will he go all ‘girlie’ in front of his forestry mates…?

  42. salamander

    March 1, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    How long before we can expect total sterility in government circles?

  43. sabina01

    March 1, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Go you good thing Dr Hayes.

    Atrazine has been banned in Europe for years of course. Our illustrious APVMA continues to sing from the chemical-company hymn sheet.

  44. Pete Godfrey

    March 1, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Yep after years of bringing it to the attention of the Government and lobbying the APVMA by Alison Bleaney, and every other group who are so short sighted that they care about the future of the human and non human population enough to write to politicians. What Happens is the Papers pick up on the story.
    Crikey, Tyrone Hayes has visited Tasmania twice now paid for by activists and each time has talked to our Government and members of the public. Did they listen, NO.
    Do we expect they will listen now NO.
    Get rid of the LIBLABs and we may have a chance of saving some of the planet. Hopefully the LIBLAB supporters will be the ones who turn into females first.

  45. Dr Andrew W. Wadsley

    March 1, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    The DPIWE flyer on Atrazine

    http://www.dpiw.tas.gov.au/inter.nsf/Attachments/EGIL-57A2CL/$FILE/ATRAZINE.pdf

    states that “Atrazine is not likely to cause reproductive problems” in animals but is 8 years out of date.

  46. Water Nymph

    March 1, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    http://www.dpiw.tas.gov.au/inter.nsf/Attachments/EGIL-57A2CL/$FILE/ATRAZINE.pdf

    … Meanwhile in Tasmania DPIW …

    states that “Atrazine is not likely to cause reproductive problems” in animals.

    But it is now 8 years out of date.

  47. john Hayward

    March 1, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    The Tassie government will believe this when they hear it from Roscoe Taylor, or the APVMA’s PR Manager and ex-Forestry Tas manager Simon Cubit. In defence of Roscoe, et al, it should be acknowledged that atrazine is still only a “suspected” carcinogen, (though it’s true that most of the testing is commissioned by the manufacturers.)

    John Hayward

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