Friday, January 16, 2009

CHEMICALS SERIOUSLY ENDANGERING MALES OF ALL SPECIES

Independent - The male gender is in danger, with incalculable consequences for both humans and wildlife, startling scientific research from around the world reveals. The research ­ to be detailed tomorrow in the most comprehensive report yet published ­ shows that a host of common chemicals is feminizing males of every class of vertebrate animals, from fish to mammals, including people.

Backed by some of the world's leading scientists, who say that it "waves a red flag" for humanity and shows that evolution itself is being disrupted, the report comes out at a particularly sensitive time for ministers. On Wednesday, Britain will lead opposition to proposed new European controls on pesticides, many of which have been found to have "gender-bending" effects.

It also follows hard on the heels of new American research which shows that baby boys born to women exposed to widespread chemicals in pregnancy are born with smaller penises and feminized genitals.

The report ­ published by the charity Chem Trust and drawing on more than 250 scientific studies from around the world ­ concentrates mainly on wildlife, identifying effects in species ranging from the polar bears of the Arctic to the eland of the South African plains, and from whales in the depths of the oceans to high-flying falcons and eagles.

It concludes: "Males of species from each of the main classes of vertebrate animals (including bony fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals) have been affected by chemicals in the environment.

"Feminisation of the males of numerous vertebrate species is now a widespread occurrence. All vertebrates have similar sex hormone receptors, which have been conserved in evolution. Therefore, observations in one species may serve to highlight pollution issues of concern for other vertebrates, including humans."