640 words • 3~4 min read

Tyrone Hayes, Atrazine, Syngenta, and a little DMX

Dr. Tyrone Hayes is a professor of Biology at UC Berkley who has been at the forefront of some groundbreaking research into the developmental effects of the pesticide Atrazine on amphibians and mammals. Dr. Hayes runs the Atrazinelovers homepage, a site dedicated to educating the public about the effects of the pesticide on our environment and human health. His research and outreach have earned him the ire of many in the pesticide industry, especially from Syngenta, the company that manufactures Atrazine. The Oyster’s Garter provides a good introduction to his research here.

Below is a video of one of his talks, summarizing his research:

Recently, a controversy has been brought to light at Nature News over some of his communications with representatives of Syngenta.

Mark Schlissel, dean of biological sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, says that the “decade long” dispute between Hayes and Syngenta has “moved increasingly into the personal arena”. Hayes met with university officials on 6 August to discuss the latest incident, although Schlissel says that Hayes is not under investigation.

Syngenta asserts that Hayes’s taunting and racy e-mails put him in violation of Berkeley’s ethical standards. In a letter to the university, the company acknowledges an “ongoing difference of opinion” with Hayes over atrazine, but states that the researcher has not responded to its attempts to interact with him “on a scientific level”.

Nature News

The offending interaction took the form of several e-mails, reproduced in the complaint sent to Dr. Hayes’s university. After reading some of the e-mails, what’s clear is that someone from Syngenta needs to grow up and get some thicker skin. And of course, by publicizing the exchange, they only serve to draw more attention to Dr. Hayes’s criticisms.

That about sums it up.

~Southern Fried Scientist

Marine science and conservation. Deep-sea ecology. Population genetics. Underwater robots. Open-source instrumentation. The deep sea is Earth's last great wilderness.

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