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A study on birth control and fish
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Ah, Colorado. Land of majestic soaring mountains, icy streams gushing musically over a cascading rockfall, eagles screeching, hawks soaring, deer bounding effortlessly over said streams and…mutant fish? Yes, folks, that’s right. Apparently, fish in places like Colorado and New Jersey and frankly, all over the U.S., are showing signs of emasculation.

Recent studies published this spring, including the April 2007 issue of Scientific American, as well as work performed at UC-Berkeley, and studies by the EPA, are showing an interesting phenomenon. Fish of all types have been mutated. There is a shocking lack of male fish. In one test sample alone in Colorado, out of 120+ trout, only 12 were male. The rest were female, except for 10 or so which showed a bizarre mutation of male and female characteristics mixed together. No one knows what kind of fish this may be. This ratio is far outside the norm of male/female fish population.

The cause of this? Scientists put it down to synthetic hormones in the water system. Apparently, our water supplies are so polluted with synthetic hormones it’s causing significant changes in the environment. The fact is, for over forty years, women have been ingesting synthetic hormones, especially female hormones like estrogen, via the Pill, or absorbing it via shots (Depo-Provera) or patches as birth control.

At the risk of being indelicate, the result is that all this estrogen gets excreted and is literally flushed into the water supply. Now, like all of you, I would like to think that what disappears into the plumbing magically goes through a transformation and becomes crystal clear pure, clean water. Not so. Waste treatment facilities are capable of removing the most offensive bacteria, but any additives slide right through unfazed. For those of us with septic systems and drain fields, you can figure out where all this is going. Yep, right into the water supply. And it’s not limited just to hormones. Excessive levels of caffeine as well as pharmaceuticals like ibuprofen and steroids are showing up as well.

Yes, our streams are full of female fish literally supercharged with caffeine and estrogen. A male fish’s nightmare for sure!

The scientists conducting these studies were shocked and dismayed by these results. They promptly released the info and waited for the corresponding howl that emerges from environmentalists every time pollution and water are linked. They were met with deafening silence. Hello…..anyone out there?

Not a peep was heard. No marches were planned. No pickets were held, no signs hastily erected. No one joined hands around trees or chained themselves to fences in protest. There was no outcry against "big pharmaceuticals". The scientific bomb was dropped and landed with a…thud. No response at all.

When environmental groups were contacted, they hemmed and hawed. Well, yes, it obviously was a problem, but they weren’t going to address it. They were "focusing on other issues right then and couldn’t be bothered." The obvious answer is that since the topic was birth control, they weren’t going to touch it with a ten-foot pole. As one activist put it, that would be "getting into people’s bedrooms and personal lives and getting them to change their behaviors," and they just weren’t going to go there.

Huh? I thought that’s what environmentalists did--poked into people’s lives and told them how to live. That’s their mantra, their modus operandi. They’re always asking us to change our behaviors with everything else. I sense a bit of hypocrisy here…

But really, in all fairness, this new information does place the environmentalist between a rock and a hard place. If you condemn birth control for polluting the environment, and people actually listened and stopped using it, it would mean that lots more of those messy human beings would become part of the planet, and that would really send the Earth to hell in a hand basket. The "overpopulation" bogeyman is more threatening to them than the possibility of mutant fish (or humans, for that matter).

So, no bell ringing from the environmentalists. They’ll take the "ignore it and it’ll go away" position. The trouble is, we’re all still affected by it. Few to no male fish means no new baby fish are being produced (basic biology, folks). Can anyone say "reduced fishing stocks"?

We are ingesting these hormones as well in our own drinking water supply. Perhaps all this estrogen is part of the reason why male sexual health, including quality of sperm, has decreased greatly since the 1960’s. Infertility rates have increased steadily since the introduction of chemical birth control. No one knows for sure, but it makes sense to me that it could be having an effect.

It’s easy to shrug one’s shoulders and say, hey, there’s nothing I can do about it. Actually, there is, if one is willing to be open-minded. There are several highly effective scientific methods of fertility awareness which help couples not only postpone births, but also achieve them, all naturally, with no chemicals or devices. It’s healthy for you, healthy for the fish, and healthy for the planet. To find out more, go to for information on natural ways to space children.

Hey, you might just find a way to help the environment, yourself and as an added bonus, all the remaining male fish will thank you. Viva testosterone!

DeBry is a Richmond Hill writer.

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