Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Inverse Spam

For some inexplicable reason, there are dozens of people all over the world -- many whom apparently live somewhere in Southeast Asia or the Pacific Islands and barely speak English -- who believe that I have a certain anatomical deficiency. At least that's what I gather from my e-mail. (For the record, no problem there guys, don't know where you got that impression.)

Anyhow, there's another spammer who sends me all kinds of weird junk all the time who on this particular occasion piqued my curiosity with a link to an article from a newspaper in London, Ontario, about Louis Guillette of the University of Florida:

Sat, April 29, 2006

A renowned U.S. scientist who has documented fertility and sex changes -- including decreasing penis size -- due to environmental contamination says he wouldn't apply pesticides on his own lawn. Delivering a special series of lectures this week at the University of Western Ontario, Louis Guillette has been drawn into London's lawn-care debate during question periods and talk-show interviews.

"The use of these compounds just for cosmetic reasons, just because you don't want to make dandelion wine from your yard or whatever, I think is inappropriate," Guillette, who is associate dean for research at the University of Florida, said in a lecture
yesterday at UWO's Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry.


A zoologist, Guillette has spent the last decade studying the influence of environmental contaminants on fetal development and reproductive systems of wildlife and humans, including the differences between alligators living in contaminated Florida lakes and those in cleaner ones. He found abnormalities in sex organs, dramatic differences in egg-hatching rates and hormone levels.

Penis size of the animals from the polluted lake was smaller than animals from the less-polluted lake. "This is important because it is not just an alligator story. It
is not just a lake story. We know there has been a dramatic increase in penile and genital abnormalities in baby boys," Guillette said.

A followup study by another scientist involving healthy couples with 5,000 healthy babies also found reduced penis size with higher contamination levels.

"Are (their penises) so small they are actually having problems? We don't know. These are baby boys," he said.

Actually, Frontline did a story on Guillette's alligator research, with considerably more detail, available here, and you can read the scientific report in General and Comparative Endocrinology, 1996, 101(1). I actually haven't been able to find the research involving human beings, and I don't know what kind of "contamination levels" they are talking about with the baby boys. Maybe it hasn't been published yet. But there is a ton of research on this involving reptiles and amphibians exposed to certain estrogenic herbicides and insecticides.

I wrote earlier about the "white male" effect in environmental policy, whereby white males -- who tend to be highly individualistic and hierarchical in their cultural orientations -- are much more likely to oppose environmental regulation and to be unconcerned about environmental risks than others -- including non-white males and women of all ethnicities. Maybe this is an issue that will make them think again.

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