Are Chemicals Threatening Human Reproduction?
April 11, 1996
Despite media praise of a new book, "Our Stolen Future," there's little or no science to back up the claim that man-made chemicals are reducing animal and human sperm counts.
- The book relies heavily on earlier research which found a sharp drop in sperm counts prior to 1970, which then leveled off.
- The authors of the 1970 study say radical environmentalists are misrepresenting their research.
- Three other studies due out next month show sperm levels are right where they have always been.
- But even if one accepts the thesis that the counts are declining, that does not warrant a leap to the conclusion that synthetic chemicals are to blame, according to experts.
The far more likely culprits? Natural agents. For example, in a monograph just released by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Jonathan Tolman documents in great depth the plight of Australian sheep which are being sterilized by a species of clover containing estrogen-mimicking compounds. Such chemicals are common in the plant world:
- Scientists have identified 149 chemicals in 173 plants that have been shown to have active estrogenic effects -- plants like barley, cabbage, carrots, corn, peas and potatoes.
- Researchers say the overall estrogenic effect of natural chemicals is over 40 million times that of synthetic chemicals.
- If human sperm counts were declining, the likely culprit could be soybeans, which contain two estrogen-like chemicals.
- Soybean oils -- a relatively new addition to the American diet -- are now consumed at an average estimated rate of 65 pounds per person each year.
Perhaps the "Stolen Future" methodology was best summed up by one of its authors, Dianne Dumanoski: "I've become even more crafty about finding the voices to say the things I think are true. That's my subversive mission."
Source: Michael Fumento (Reason magazine), Investor's Business Daily, April 11, 1996.
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