NANFA-L-- OT, frog researcher silenced (from CNAH)

Subject: NANFA-L-- OT, frog researcher silenced (from CNAH)
From: Bruce Stallsmith (fundulus at
Date: Wed Oct 27 2004 - 10:26:59 CDT

If you thought researching environmental affects on frogs is an obscure
topic no one cares about, you're wrong, unfortunately. The following is from
the Center for North American Herpetology (CNAH).

--Bruce Stallsmith
still lots of frogs in the Tennessee Valley, I think
Huntsville, AL, US of A

The Center for North American Herpetology
Lawrence, Kansas
27 October 2004

Minnesota Cancels Speech about Frogs
Speech was to be about possible Atrazine links to Frog Abonormalities
Tom Meersman
Star Tribune
24 October 2004

A scientist from the University of California, Berkeley, was to be keynote
speaker at an upcoming conference sponsored by the Minnesota Pollution
Agency. Then state officials learned the topic of his speech: his latest
linking the herbicide atrazine to frog abnormalities.

Now, Prof. Tyrone Hayes has been uninvited -- by order of the agency's

Hayes, an endocrinologist who studies how chemicals affect amphibians, won't
address the annual environmental conference in February even though his
research is of particular interest in the state where schoolchildren
frogs with extra legs and other deformities nine years ago.

Hayes said his removal from the program is an act of censorship by a state
agency bowing to agricultural interests and pesticide companies that don't
his findings. "Initially, before the MPCA uninvited me, they asked if I
remove the words 'atrazine' and 'pesticide' from the title of my talk, and
course I refused to do that because that's what I work on," said Hayes.

"My response was either you want me to talk or you don't," he said.

MPCA Commissioner Sheryl Corrigan said nobody is trying to keep Hayes'
message "out of the press or out of the mainstream." She said she wanted a
different speaker because Hayes presented some of his findings earlier this
in Minnesota, and his research has received wide attention.

"When I looked at the stuff that he's talked about in the past, and his
to date, I just didn't think it was keynote material," Corrigan said.

E-mails between Hayes and an MPCA staffer, obtained by the Star Tribune,
tell a
different story.

Hayes' contact was Jennifer Anthony-Powell, the agency's meeting planner and
coordinator for the three-day Minnesota air, water and waste conference. The
event, to be held in Bloomington, typically draws 1,100 people from industry

After being asked to give the keynote address, Hayes corresponded with
Anthony-Powell during August about the details of the conference. However,
Sept. 27 Anthony-Powell sent Hayes an e-mail expressing the need to
management" about the keynote speech. "Politically speaking -- it sounds
like it
is the atrazine that is causing some concern from other agencies," she

She asked whether Hayes could make his title more general, because "I'm
thinking that might alleviate some of the political power plays going on."
concluded, "I'm trying to stay ahead of the game so it doesn't get out of

Hayes asked by e-mail for more information about the concerns of MPCA

Anthony-Powell responded on Sept. 28: "Atrazine, atrazine, atrazine. This
Dept. of Ag. conference and they are thinking there is a possibility that
going to be attacked and not present to defend themselves." Anthony-Powell
said there was concern that Hayes' talk might become "anti-government."

In an interview Tuesday, Anthony-Powell said that Wayne Anderson, an
official in
the MPCA commissioner's office, had approached her and raised these
Anderson, who is the agency's liaison with the Minnesota Agriculture
Department, could not be reached for comment.

Hayes immediately responded to the Sept. 28 e-mail. He said that his data
been published by top scientific journals. He acknowledged that he has been
critical of government approaches to pesticide regulations, and he offered
share the keynote speech with government and industry representatives.

Hayes, a professor in Berkeley's Department of Integrative Biology, said
some of his latest research suggests new ways that pesticides, including
atrazine, may cause development problems in amphibians. "I will of course
about this because it is important ... and it seems the government does not
people to know," he said in the e-mail.

On Sept. 29 MPCA officials called Hayes and withdrew the invitation to

Corrigan said that she did not consult with state agriculture officials
Hayes' planned speech.

"My decision was not about agriculture," she said in a statement. "It was
about Professor Hayes personally. It was all about having the right keynote
the stage for this important conference."

Scientific understanding about atrazine's potential effects on frogs is a
progress. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials reviewed 17 studies
the topic in 2003, including two by Hayes and 12 funded by the pesticide
industry. They found insufficient data "to indicate that atrazine will or
cause adverse developmental effects in amphibians."

Corrigan added that Hayes is welcome to attend future conferences if he has
new data, but "from what I have been able to discern, his research today is
same as it was in February 2004" when he gave a presentation on a panel at
last MPCA conference. However, Corrigan said that she had not talked with
Hayes to ask him directly about his latest research.

Hayes said he intended to speak at the conference about some of the research
in four new papers that will be published soon in scientific journals. This
he did field work along areas of the Upper Mississippi River, including in
Wisconsin. He has also been studying the North Platte and Missouri rivers,
focus on examining the health of amphibians and correlating it with
levels in the water.

Hayes will discuss some of that work at a special legislative hearing before
state Senate's Environment and Natural Resources committee on Monday. His
trip is being sponsored by the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy,
group that has been critical of pesticide use and regulation in the state.

Meanwhile, the new keynote speaker for the MPCA conference hasn't been

Thanks to HerpDigest for alerting CNAH to this topic.

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: Fri Dec 31 2004 - 11:27:54 CST