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Is Factory Farm Poop Giving Fish a Sex Change?


Science & Tech  (tags: farming, money, ethics, business, pollution, consumers, corporate, americans, science, investigation, discovery, research, scientists, society, study, safety, health, design, concept )

JL
- 480 days ago - motherjones.com
"The genius of America farm experts is very well demonstrated here: they can take a solution and divide it neatly into two problems."



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JL A. (269)
Friday December 21, 2012, 4:07 pm


Mother Jones
Is Factory Farm Poop Giving Fish a Sex Change?
A new study reports that hormones from factory animal farms skew the sexual development of fish in nearby streams.

By Tom Philpott | Mon Dec. 17, 2012 11:57 AM PST

In his 1977 classic The Unsettling of America, Wendell Berry described a major change that came along with the post-World War II rise of factory-scale animal farms.

"Once plants and animals were raised together on the same farm—which therefore neither produced unmanageable surpluses of manure, to be wasted and to pollute the water supply, nor depended on such quantities of commercial fertilizer," Berry wrote. "The genius of America farm experts is very well demonstrated here: they can take a solution and divide it neatly into two problems."

On diversified farms, manure is a vital resource that's used to build fertility and organic matter in soil. But when you cram animals together by the thousands, you generate way more manure than can be absorbed by nearby land—and your vital resource suddenly becomes a waste problem. The tendency is to over-apply manure in fields surrounding factory farms—which then runs off into streams, helping fertilize the algae blooms that plague the Midwest's lakes, which I reported on last week.

But it's not just excess phosphorus and nitrogen that's the problem. It's also the hormones and other chemicals fed to confined animals—they, too, end up in their manure and thus into waterways. A quarter century after Berry's observation, we're just now figuring out the implications. A team of scientists from Purdue and the Environmental Protection Agency looked at fish populations in Indiana streams downstream from CAFOs, or confined-animal feedlot operations. Their findings [1], released this month, are sobering. In CAFO-tainted water, 60 percent of minnows turned out male. In the non-contaminated water, the male ratio was 48 percent. The CAFO-exposed water also showed lower species biodiversity, and the fish in them had reduced fertlity.

The takeaway is that CAFO manure running into streams appears to be affecting the sexual development of fish. Although it's impossible to pinpoint an exact cause, the authors point out that the CAFO water showed heightened levels of synthetic hormones used in livestock farms "during the period of spawning, hatching, and development for resident fishes."

And one of those hormones, trenbolone, has also turned up as a possible culprit in other studies, reports Environmental Health News [2]:

The same synthetic hormone, trenbolone, detected at high levels in the Indiana streams was linked to an all-male population of zebrafish in a 2006 laboratory study [3] by University of Southern Denmark researchers. In addition, a study [4] led by Orlando in 2004 found male minnows in a stream near a confined animal feeding operation had lower than average testosterone and were sexually immature.

Like all individual studies, the current one is suggestive, not definitive. But it raises serious questions about what we're sacrificing to feed our appetite for cheap meat.
Source URL: http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/12/cheap-meat-and-healthy-fish-dont-mix

Links:
[1] http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2012/leet-estes302599t.pdf
[2] http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2012/fish-sex-ratio
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16860000
[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1241866/
 

Rebecca S. (61)
Friday December 21, 2012, 11:29 pm
Interesting. It's scary what hormones can do to the bodies of any living creature, including ourselves.
 

JL A. (269)
Saturday December 22, 2012, 7:18 am
It sure is scary Rebecca. You cannot currently send a star to Rebecca because you have done so within the last week.
 

Freya H. (286)
Sunday December 23, 2012, 9:42 am
I yi yi yi yi! Just one more reason to go vegetarian.
 

JL A. (269)
Sunday December 23, 2012, 10:37 am
It would belong on such a list for sure Freya! You cannot currently send a star to Freya because you have done so within the last week.
 

Waltraud U. (61)
Sunday December 23, 2012, 1:54 pm
ty
 

paula eaton (30)
Sunday December 23, 2012, 2:20 pm
Factory farms are a living nightmare for animals. A health hazard for consumers. The drug companies are making money on the hormones and antibiotics fed to these poor animals. The environment is being destroyed. Please consider going vegan or vegetarian.
 

JL A. (269)
Sunday December 23, 2012, 2:49 pm
You are welcome Waltraud.
You cannot currently send a star to paula because you have done so within the last week.
 

Michael Kirkby (80)
Sunday December 23, 2012, 4:59 pm
If you want a good example of this look no further than the factory pig farms in the Carolinas. Aerial photos show this huge outflow of waste, sludge and fecal matter which has all the hormones and chemicals and pollutants in it. That gets carried south on the Atlantic current into the Gulf of Mexico and I suspect that along with oil industry contaminants over the years has led to the growth of the dead water area.
In Canada we have now been informed that the microscopic detritus of our plastic and oil industry ruled lives is now showing up in the Great Lakes. Of course NOVA had a program on this back in the early nineties about how plastic was affecting sexual confusion in all things - globally. Then of course there is the runoff of our detritus that is filled with estrogen; BPA, Pthalens and all the other things we put in our environment through our modern convenience lifestyle. Those who must have instant gratification must not be denied. After all, they're all elite and privileged aren't they? At least they think they are.
 

Dave C. (204)
Sunday December 23, 2012, 5:20 pm
doesn't surprise me.
 

JL A. (269)
Sunday December 23, 2012, 5:54 pm
Thank you for the wealth of examples and additional consequences and contributing factors impact aquatic life Michael. No, no surprise Dave. You cannot currently send a star to Michael because you have done so within the last week.You cannot currently send a star to Dave because you have done so within the last week.
 

Pittbrad P. (0)
Sunday December 23, 2012, 6:05 pm
my buddy's mother-in-law makes $72/hr on the computer. She has been without a job for ten months but last month her paycheck was $21863 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on this site www.fly38.com
 

Monica D. (580)
Sunday December 23, 2012, 7:59 pm
Close factory farms ...
 

Sergio Padilla (62)
Sunday December 23, 2012, 8:15 pm
Thanks, not surprised.....
 

JL A. (269)
Sunday December 23, 2012, 8:24 pm
You're welcome Sergio. You cannot currently send a star to Sergio because you have done so within the last week.
 

Tanya W. (31)
Monday December 24, 2012, 5:07 am
Not good! More evidence of man's interference - intentional or not!!
 

Past Member (0)
Monday December 24, 2012, 5:14 am
Interesting Terrifying news.Noted,thanks.
 

paul m. (93)
Monday December 24, 2012, 6:10 am

Noted
 

JL A. (269)
Monday December 24, 2012, 6:33 am
Very true Tanya and Samir. You cannot currently send a star to Tanya because you have done so within the last week.You cannot currently send a star to Samir because you have done so within the last week.
 

Azmi Timur (0)
Tuesday December 25, 2012, 11:28 pm
Noted.
 
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