Biologist Tyrone Hayes was inspired by the frogs around his boyhood home. That love put him on a path leading to Harvard University, then UC Berkeley. It led him to a study putting him at odds with a maker of pesticides — and to a 100Reporters investigation.
This story is told again, this time as a short documentary, the first in a series by The New Yorker Presents and Amazon Prime.
In June 2013, 100Reporters published “Pest Control: Syngenta’s Secret Campaign to Discredit Atrazine’s Critics.” The story parted the curtain on a secret corporate effort to protect the market for atrazine, used on 80 percent of the corn grown in the United States. The company planted hecklers at Hayes’ talks, sought to exploit his private life and acted to insure he did not get a job teaching at Duke University.
Court documents obtained by 100Reporters under an open records request revealed a corporate strategy to discredit critics and to strip plaintiffs from the class-action case. The company specifically targeted one of atrazine’s fiercest and most outspoken critics, Tyrone Hayes of the University of California, Berkeley, whose research suggests that atrazine feminizes male frogs.
Want to read up on Dr. Hayes, and what happens to beings exposed to Atrazine?
- 100Reporters: Downwind: Big Ag at Your Door. Organic farmers more than 30 of their neighbors have documented two herbicides linked to cancer and birth defects, atrazine and 2,4-D, in their own bodies at alarmingly high levels. (2012)
- 100Reporters: EPA Oversight: Weighing the Parts, Ignoring the Whole. Chemicals the EPA registers for use have little connection with the frequently more toxic substances sold by the millions of pounds to unsuspecting American consumers. (2012)
- 100 Reporters: Weed Killer turns Male Frogs into Females, Studies Show researchers at University of California, Berkeley, found that low concentrations — the amount expected near farms — caused male tadpoles to turn into female frogs. (2013)
- 100 Reporters: Tillery to Represent Hayes Against UC Berkeley in Dispute Over Lab Fees. The attorney who won a $105 million settlement from Syngenta, maker of the highly profitable weed killer atrazine, represented Dr. Tyrone Hayes in dispute with his own university. (2013)
- Agsense: Website attacks critic of Atrazine, purporting to represent farmers using Atrazine.
- Atrazine Lovers: The official site of Dr. Tyrone Hayes