Is Atrazine Turning The Freakin’ Frogs Gay?! – #1

Online, I have developed a reputation for defending the defenceless, protecting the disenfranchised corporations that have been abandoned by their very own consumers: the synthetic pesticide producers, the large pharmaceutical companies, and the artificial food additive conglomerates. As you can imagine, this has led a lot of people to believe that I am a shill, because why else would I be defending these companies and compounds? These people often take to my comments section, where they spam the word “shill” as if it were kryptonite to all of my arguments. The videos where I defended Monsanto’s herbicide, glyphosate, are particularly targeted, as many believe the compound poses a serious health risk, and can’t fathom why anyone would think otherwise. In all honesty, I can’t blame them, as for decades now the general public has been told by reporters, who are poorly schooled in science and don’t have the skills necessary to accurately separate science from ideology, that glyphosate is dangerous. I have been covering the subject of the toxicity and carcinogenic potential of glyphosate for years now, and believe at this point that I am beating a dead horse. I have, therefore, decided to move on and investigate another equally despised herbicide, atrazine, which is reported to adversely affect amphibian gonadal development. 

The story of how atrazine became so hated by the general public and demonised by the media is a bizarre and almost unbelievable one. The story started with the publication of research that showed the compound negatively affected amphibian development, and ended with sexually explicit and harassing emails, withheld research, unrepeatable results, conspiracy to shut up scientists by a large multinational, accusations of a company knowingly selling a carcinogen because they also sell the cure, and American radio show host and conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, warning us about the gay frogs. 

Ales Jones dressed as a gay frog, which involved wearing a full-body frog suit, face paint, and pink tutu.

If you’ve spent any time online, you’ve probably stumbled upon one of Jones’ unhinged, nonsensical rants. Even after being banned from nearly all of the major content platforms, he still garners attention due to his outlandish claims and his perpetual outrage over the latest government conspiracy. Jones, who runs the websites InfoWars, NewsWars, and PrisonPlanet has often found himself at the centre of controversies after using his platforms to promote certain distasteful conspiracies. For example, in the past, he has accused the American government of planning the Oklahoma City bombing and orchestrating the September 11 attacks. Recently, he has caused outrage after promoting Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting conspiracies and giving a platform to those who harass the family members of the victims. 

One of Jones’ most notorious conspiracy theories, and one that has made him a target of ridicule, is that he believes that the US government has successfully developed a psychochemical “gay bomb”, which they are using to control the population through rampant homosexuality. In 2015, Jones uploaded a video to his YouTube channel, which has since been widely-mocked, where he discussed some of the negative effects that these homosexual-inducing chemicals are having on the wildlife population. During one of his now-infamous semi-hysterical rants, Jones shouted out,  “I don’t like ’em putting chemicals in the water that turn the freakin’ frogs gay! Do you understand that? I’m sick of being social engineered, it’s not funny!”

Unbelievably, there is actually a nugget of truth to this story! In 1994, a US government lab requested funds to pursue the development of non-lethal psychochemical weapons. These proposed chemical weapons included a “bad-breath bomb”, “flatulence bomb”, and bombs designed to attract swarms of stinging insects to enemy combatants. Perhaps the most novel proposed weapon they requested funding for was one that would provoke widespread homosexual behaviour in enemy combatants. The plans of this “gay bomb” were eventually obtained under the US Freedom of Information by the sunshine Project, a group which monitors research into chemical and biological weapons. 

Captain Dan McSweeney of the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate at the Pentagon said the defence department receives “literally hundreds” of project ideas, but that “none of the systems described in that [1994] proposal have been developed”. Although the projects were quickly shelved and no such weapon was developed, the Air Force Wright Laboratory won the 2007 Ig Nobel Peace Prize for “instigating research & development” into their “gay bomb”. 

In 2017, Jones would double down on his bizarre, yet oddly specific, claim that chemicals in the water are turning the frogs gay.

“The majority of frogs in most areas of the United States are now gay” – Alex Jones

Once again, Jones did not provide any evidence for his claim; nor did he discuss what specific chemical is causing this forced homosexuality in frogs. That was until earlier this year, when he published a video on his website, InfoWars, discussing in detail what chemical he believes is responsible, whilst he was dressed as a gay frog, which involved wearing a full-body frog suit, face paint, and pink tutu. 

Jones believes that the herbicide atrazine is responsible, not only for turning the frogs gay, but also causing homosexuality, reduced fertility, and cancer in humans. Like with the “gay bomb”, there is a nugget of truth to this story. However, most reporters have not bothered to scratch below the surface, and simply report that Jones is being his usual crazy self. For example, Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian of the Young Turks recently published a video entitled, “Do Trump Supporters Believe in Gay Frogs”, in which they openly talk about mocking Jones for his gay frog theories and misleading his audience into believing that “the gay frogs were based on studies and facts”.

Unbeknown to Cenk and Ana, Jones was acutely quoting published peer-reviewed research from American biologist and professor of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, Tyrone Hayes. 

In 1997, Hayes was working as a contract researcher for the chemical company Novartis (who, in 2000, would later spin off its agribusiness to form Syngenta) to study the herbicide Atrazine. Hayes discovered that the herbicide might cause hormonal abnormalities, resulting in impeded sexual development in frogs. He went on to speculate that the herbicide could cause the same abnormalities in humans. 

According to Hayles, Syngenta tried to prevent him for publishing his findings, but eventually, in 2002, with the help of the EPA, he published the paper, “Hermaphroditic, demasculinized frogs after exposure to the herbicide atrazine at low ecologically relevant doses’. This paper caused a panic in the agrochemical world as, not only is atrazine one of the most widely used herbicides in the US, but the concentration shown in the paper to have an adverse effect was well below the accepted US safe contamination level in drinking water. 

After parting ways with Syngenta, Hayes continued studying atrazine on his own, and soon become convinced that representatives from the company were following him and attempting to smear his research and reputation. However, this would not stop him going to the media to tell them what he had discovered; genetically male frogs not developing correctly, allowing them to reproduce as females, development grotesque sexual organ abnormalities, a mechanism of cancer proliferation in humans caused by the herbicide, and, most importantly, induced homosexual behaviour in frogs! 

So, there we have it! Alex Jones was correct about the gay frogs! Or was he? 

As I said at the beginning, there is a lot more to this story than first meets the eye and, in the future, I plan to publish more blog posts on the topic. However, for now, I would like to bring attention to the poor science reporting from the likes of The Young Turks, and how this helps to feed into Jones’ victim complex. 

Jones and others like him gain a lot of support from perpetuating the idea that they are unfairly discriminated against by what they see as “left wing media”. No doubt, when Jones saw the lambasting he was receiving by the press for accurately reporting the views/findings of Berkeley scientists, he saw an opportunity. Jones and his followers believe that the science is on their side, and so have used this negative press as proof of discrimination. 

This could easily lead the causal viewer to think that if Jones was correct about the gay frogs, what else is he correct about? Jones obviously knows this, which is why in his most recent video, he quite clearly is attempting to bait reporters into covering the story by wearing a frog costume and tutu. He is counting on the vast majority of them, like The Young Turks (who actually used lesser ‘research’ than Jones in their past crusade against glyphosate, just because it fit with their bias – so, surely, if Alex Jones and his gay frogs theory is worth mocking, so is the glyphosate nonsense), to not scratch beneath the surface.

In this age of fake news, accurate science reporting is absolutely vital. Yet the story of the gay frogs, by all accounts, is a story of biased, poorly-schooled, lazy journalists helping charlatans to become victims so they can circumvent the scientific method and directly scare the public….but more about that in the next blog post. 

About Myles Power (687 Articles)
My name is Myles Power, and I run the educational YouTube channel, powerm1985. I spend what little free time I have sharing my love of SCIENCE! through home experiments, visiting sites of scientific interest, and angrily ranting at pseudoscience proponents. I am also one of the founding members of the podcast 'The League of Nerds' - which I co-host with James from 'The History of Infection'.

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