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Kermit to Kermette?

Does the Herbicide Atrazine Feminize Male Frogs?



Author:

Frank J. Dinan
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Canisius College
dinan@canisius.edu

Abstract:

This case study explores the unintended side effects of chemicals introduced into the environment, specifically organic compounds that can act as environmental estrogens (chemical castration agents that can interfere with the sexual development of embryonic males). The case was developed for a non-majors chemistry course and focuses on the science that underlies the controversy surrounding the sale of the herbicide atrazine in the U.S. as well as the political and economic issues that impact this science.

Objectives:
  • Learn about how environmental estrogens can act to feminize embryonic males.
  • Acquire experience with the presentation and interpretation of scientific data in graphical form.
  • Be exposed to the diverse ways in which the same set of scientific data may be interpreted by groups with different political and economic viewpoints.
  • Become aware of the power that lobbying has to influence the political outcome of scientific studies.
Keywords: Atrazine contamination; androgens; decline of amphibians; environmental estrogen; chemical castration agents; feminization of frog larvae; Syngenta, Xenopus laevis; sociology of science
Topical Area: Scientific method
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biochemistry   Chemistry (General)   Environmental Science  
Date Posted: 03/20/06
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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Good case study. A minor thing I noticed was the titles on the graphs were backwards - they should always be in a y vs. x format.


Gary Buckley
Physical Sciences
Cameron University
Lawton, OK
gbuckley@cameron.edu
6/15/2011



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