Who Put Frogicide On My Peanuts, Tomatoes, & Potatoes?


Image credit:USGS, via Wikipedia

Syngenta, Swiss manufacturer of the herbicide Atrazine (very popular with US farmers but banned in Europe) and the widely-used fungicides Bravo and Daconil (formulations of chlorothalonil, a molecule similar to other long-banned pestsicides, but still available everywhere) has encountered some new eco-tox information about it's chlorothalonil-based formulations that might potentially lead to increased regulatory scrutiny. It kills frogs. At the tested concentration, most of the frogs. Turn the page for graphic details. No dead Kermits though, I promise.
Tampa Bay News has covered the story extensively, as this fungicide is used extensively in Florida.

"We were completely surprised to see it basically killed everything," said Taegan McMahon, the lead researcher on the study, which was published this week in a scientific journal called Environmental Health Perspectives. Frogs on farms with treated fields, frogs in ponds on golf courses, frogs in the back yard -- the fungicide could be lethal to any of them, the study suggests.
I suggest you read the Tampa Bay article in full and then come back to my post.

Glad you returned:- Ecologists and herpetologists will be all over the USGS data, as presented in the map shown above, looking for potential correlations of usage rates with frog species moralities and ranges. I imagine USEPA , if they survive the massive budget cuts pushed by House Republicans, will be looking to see if municipal wastewater treatment facilities break the fungicide down and if it is found in storm water discharges (this fungicide is also widely used on landscape ornamentals and lawns).

Because it is so heavily used on peanuts (per the USGS summary above) and because it is either a strong 'dermal sensitizer' and/or a strong 'skin irritant' (there are formal but controversial distinctions) my hypothetical question is "are peanut allergies only caused by peanut proteins or are they potentially associated with something else?" Anyone know?

As I say, regulatory agencies will most likely already be in communication with distributors and manufacturers of chlorothalonil-containing products to see if other similar information has emerged and will follow the coming work of the University of South Florida researchers who have reported on the frog moralities. Logically, this could lead to field sampling around farm fields to see what levels are found in adjacent wetlands and drainage ditches and drainage wells (when application precedes rain).

But don't panic. The scientific method has to play out - corroboration is needed by other workers, inside and outside the crop care industry. If you're not comfortable waiting for the science and regulatory deliberations, eat organic veggies and nuts. There's lots of good information about organic peanut production and availability here. (pdf file)

Just for fun, here's a structure for chlorothalonil, from Wikipedia.

And here's one for DDT, same source.

Finally, to ease the work of the DC area think tanks and cable tv producers everywhere, here are some dirty smelly hippies who want to take away all yur delicious cheap peanut butter with their pro-gubment, socialist EPA regulation. They look anxious for a split screen presence to get their 10 minutes of fame. You can have your anchors holler at them and they won't protest too much.


Image credit:Flickr, via photostream of Lucyfrench123

"Also too," as Sara Palin would say, you might wonder Why Is There Still a Frog Disruptor In My Toothpaste?

Tags: Food Safety | Food Security | Tomatoes