Thursday, October 30, 2008

Frogs die while crops sprayed

Remember the frogs? When I was a kid my friends and I would rescue tadpoles from muddy puddles as they dried up and then grow them in buckets and a wading pool in my back yard. We'd have frogs hanging around all summer, catching flies and churumping in the twilight.

Where I saw ten frogs, today's children would only see three-- amphibians worldwide have declined by seventy percent and one in three amphibian species is listed as endangered.

Frogs are like canaries in coal mines, an early warning system that something's wrong. Their skin is thin and very permeable, easily affected by rising ozone levels. An infectious fungal disease deadly to frogs is spreading rapidly because of the increasing temperature of the earth.

Causes of the decline in amphibians are many and complicated, but today Scientific American reported on a study that shows a clear link between use of the pesticide Atrazine plus fertilizers with the decline of the northern leopard frog. This modest frog, the State Amphibian of Vermont and Minnesota, is being decimated by flatworm parasites that proliferate on snails that grow fiercely in waters polluted by Atrazine and fertilizers.Although this pesticide is banned in Europe, in the last fifteen years it's become the top-selling pesticide in the United States.

Syngenta, the Swiss-based company that produces Atrazine, had this to say about the University of South Florida study: "50 years of use and a vast amount of research has shown that (atrazine) can be used safely with no long-term detriment to ecosystems."

Photo from Transguyjay's photostream at Flickr

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