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March 6, 2013 – Have any of your friends been unable to conceive because of the man’s low sperm count?  (Obviously, these are friends you know pretty well.)  While lower sperm counts have been periodically reported over the last 20 years, it finally occurred to someone to review the literature.  The jury is in, and the verdict is unwelcome, particularly for a species that likes to imagine it’s going to be around for a while.  As it turns out, we even know why it’s happening.
In a word, pesticides.   Researchers at George Washington University report that sperm has declined both in quantity and quality over the last 50 years.  Not just here in the United States, either.  Everywhere.  Some of the studies included in the review reported that sperm counts had dropped by half between the years 1940 and 1990.  It should be no surprise to learn that farm workers are the most affected.  In an article which appeared in the journal Toxicology, the researchers wrote that “significant associations between exposure to pesticides and semen quality indicators” had been found.

The reviewing scientists selected articles published between 2007 and 2012 for their study.  The sperm count investigations used in the report  took place in France, New Zealand, India, Tunisia, Israel and Mexico.  Because sperm production is controlled by the endocrine system, which serves to regulate hormones, and because organophosphates found in pesticides interfere with hormone regulation, lowered sperm counts should come as no surprise.    Mexican laborers in the floral industry were found to have not only decreased levels of testosterone, but suppressed levels of both follicle-stimulating hormone, and inhibin b.  These are sensitive markers of sperm production.
Surely if this information were well known, men would demand organic food!  Not only would they demand organic food, they would demand that its price go down, too.  This is serious business, folks.  It concerns the viability of our species.  You need to let the men in your life know about what’s being done to them by the makers of conventional pesticides; this includes herbicides and insecticides.  Not only has wildlife been profoundly impacted (think bees and Clothianidin), human beings have, as well.  When you hear someone waxing eloquent on the subject of free markets, remind them that lower sperm counts are the direct result of the unregulated marketplace.  Our scientific illiteracy hasn’t helped, either.

Stay away from conventionally-produced food products, fresh and processed.  Demand that foods grown with GMO seeds be labeled – remember, they were developed to withstand direct herbicide application.  Tell the manager of your local food store you want to see more organic foods, and you want to see their prices drop.  If you think he’ll listen, tell him why you’re concerned.

Especially if HE is a HE.


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