An herbicide popular with farmers but targeted by environmentalists because it is supposedly responsible for chemically castrating frogs has been absolved of the crime. A paper published in October in the Public Library of Science One (PLOS One) reveals that frogs are thriving in America’s agricultural heartland. More explosively, it shows that the researcher who pushed hardest for a ban of the herbicide called Atrazine, sat on the exculpatory data for a decade while high-stakes regulatory battles raged at the state and federal level.
Dr. Tyrone Hayes burst onto the national and international scene in early 2002 with research published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) claiming that “amphibian species exposed to atrazine in the wild could be at risk of impaired sexual development” and that atrazine “may be a factor in global amphibian declines.”
Ever since, Hayes has played a central role in a long-running drama over the safety of atrazine, first used widely as a farm weed killer in the 1950s. Until Hayes’ laboratory research, no studies had found significant health or environmental concerns over atrazine and its use, even among farm workers.
Essentially all of the controversy was based on laboratory findings from Hayes’ group at UC Berkeley.
But when regulators asked Hayes for his data, not just his conclusions and assertions, he balked.
Now we know that Hayes knew all along that wild frogs were thriving in habitats throughout the Midwest, both near to and distant from cornfields where atrazine was used.
So all the while a public policy debate raged that held the fate of an entire industry in limbo, these researchers just sat on their data and continued to falsely insinuate that atrazine played a key role in “global amphibian declines.”
Read full, original article: Frog-pocalypse Not: Amphibians And Atrazine