unintentional sex-change operations

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jul 20, 2006

Roughly one-third of the male fish in British rivers are developing female characteristics, in a frightening trend that could severely upset the ecological balance of the waterways. What's more, the trend could affect humans, with a devastating effect on fertility. The problem is apparently caused by certain chemicals used in pest-control treatment, which cannot be removed by existing methods of sewage treatment. Environmentalists are urgently calling for a ban on those pesticides.

Oh, wait. That's not right.

The first part of the story is true. Male fish are developing female traits, and the implications-- for fish and for humans-- are indeed frightening.

And the problem is caused by chemicals that sewage-treatment plants cannot remove. But those chemicals aren't used by farmers as pesticides. The culprits are estrogens, used by millions of women in birth-control pills.

Needless to say, environmentalists are not calling for a ban on the use of the Pill. Everyone knows that we gotta have our Pills, regardless of the cost.

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  • Posted by: Italiana - Jul. 25, 2006 8:07 AM ET USA

    Did you see the picture of those fish? They look sheepish. Much like our men who have been acting more like silly women for several years. It's the feminists. They're behind all this since their goal is to eradicate all maleness from the face of the earth.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 21, 2006 3:18 PM ET USA

    "Experts say female hormones from the contraceptive pill and HRT are being washed into our rivers..." Whenever we read what is said by "experts" in a newspaper we do well to maintain a healthy skepticism. Between the estrogens and the potentially deadly effects of second-hand smoke, I'm not sure that it even makes sense for me to finish the tin-foil hats that I've been making for my family and friends.

  • Posted by: JARay - Jul. 21, 2006 6:13 AM ET USA

    Interesting spellings. You say estrogen I say oestrogen. The Greek original has the "o" at the begining. Like, is it sulfer or sulphur. However, the fact is that far too much oestrogen is getting into our diets. The results are, indeed, there already.

  • Posted by: Fr T (UK) - Jul. 20, 2006 6:09 PM ET USA

    I have been telling people that we are awash in a sea of oestrogen for years - and been laughed at!

  • Posted by: - Jul. 20, 2006 12:40 PM ET USA

    Clam down, Di. This crisis is easily resolved. All the Brits need to do is dump a couple of tons of testosterone into the water and, poof, problem solved. From wikipedia: Virilizing effects (of testosterone) include maturation of the sex organs, particularly the penis and the formation of the scrotum in fetuses, and after birth a deepening of the voice, growth of the beard and axillary hair.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 20, 2006 12:23 PM ET USA

    This might explain why each generation of the House of Windsor gets goofier. And here I thought that it was simple evolution.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 20, 2006 12:20 PM ET USA

    Doesnt this mean that there will be no population exlosion among the fish since they are all on the pill? Maybe that is what happened in certain California cities....the drinking water caused 1/3 of the males to adopt female characteristics....it wasnt the devil that made me do it, it was the water!

  • Posted by: - Jul. 20, 2006 11:23 AM ET USA

    Thank goodness for the estrogen in the waterways. I was worried for awhile about where the Episcopalians would find their bishops, and where we Catholics would find our altar servers. Jesus' miracle of feeding the 5,000 was only meant metaphorically according to Historico-Cryptico Code scripture scholars.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 20, 2006 10:21 AM ET USA

    This could be an environmental disaster of even greater proportion than global warming. Al Gore, why don't you make a movie on this one?