Summary - Fowl Cocks, Alligators and Men!

A recent study of the Graeme Hall swamp has revealed the presence of both DDT, and DDE, a degradation product of the former. The insecticide, DDT, causes abnormalities in male sex organs. Studies have shown that roosters, male alligators and men are seriously affected by this dangerous chemical that mimics a female hormone.

DDT has been implicated in declining male fertility in environmentally conscious countries like those in North American and Europe. It is reasonable to infer that the problem may be worse in Barbados, given the environmental history of the island.

This article is devoted to DDT and to men’s reproductive health. My next article will deal with women’s health and cancer in both sexes.

Graeme Hall, Pesticides, Men’s Health and Cricket

A couple of days ago a highly educated Bajan told me:
“Bajan men have changed. Twenty years ago Bajan men were muscular and wiry. They were more aggressive. I think this loss of muscle and aggression has caused the decline of cricket in Barbados.”

My first reaction was to dismiss this statement, but my current research has revealed that it is probably the truth. In 1993, scientist Lou Guillette addressed the U.S. Congress on the subject of  human sperm counts. He told them:
“Every man sitting in this room today is half the man his grandfather was, and the question is, are our children going to be half the men we are?”  [ Source: PBS, Fooling with Nature  ]

The discovery of DDE and DDT in the Graeme Hall swamp is a warning that Bajans should be concerned.

Mental ran this story Mothers’ Pesticide Exposure Linked to Deficits in Children (Updated: Mar 17th 2010). Children of mothers exposed to pesticides “had deficits related to motor speed and coordination”. Cricket requires excellent coordination! Could pesticides be killing the sport of cricket in Barbados?

We have mentioned the US and Barbados, but this is a global problem.

Global Infertility

The sperm counts of North American and European Men are falling dramatically. According to the National Review of Medicine, February 2004, DDT remains the prime suspect in declining male fertility:

Widespread suspicions that male fertility is falling appear to have been confirmed by news from Britain, where a British Fertility Society meeting in Liverpool heard this month that men’s average sperm count has fallen by nearly a third since 1989.

Here are two other disturbing quotes from the same source:

  • “… A chemical in the insecticide called p,p’-DDE has strong estrogenic and anti-androgenic properties.” [Interpretation: It will chemically castrate you!]
  • “… The problem of falling sperm counts is bound to get worse before it gets better.”

The situation is worse outside of Europe and the US. According to Pregnancy Today, Global Infertility:

Both men and women in developing countries are exposed to higher levels of environmental and dietary toxins than people in North America.

The Science Daily has a story on genital defects in boys from Limpopo, northernmost province of South Africa.
ScienceDaily (Oct. 23, 2009), Boys With Urogenital Birth Defects Are 33 Percent More Common In Villages Sprayed With DDT

Women who lived in villages sprayed with DDT to reduce malaria gave birth to 33 per cent more baby boys with urogenital birth defects (UGBD) between 2004 and 2006 than women in unsprayed villages, according to research published online by the UK-based urology journal BJUI.

China was very late to ban DDT. They did it last year (2009) according to Highbeam. I imagine that the Chinese men must be suffering more than those in other countries.

The Barbadian fertility rate [ 2009 est. ] is 1.68 children born per woman, which is about that of Sweden. (Fertility studies in Scandinavia have found that the average male sperm count has dropped by almost 50% since DDT started to be used. Source) Barbados ranks at 170 out of 220 countries.

Danger Indicated Since Animal Studies of 1950

As far back as 1950 there were warning signs. Here are some more quotes from a timeline on PBS, Fooling with Nature:

  • 1950 - DDT is shown to disrupt sexual development in roosters — possibly by acting as a hormone. Scientists V.F. Lindeman and Howard Burlington find that young roosters treated with DDT fail to develop normal male sex characteristics, such as combs and wattles. The pesticide also stunted the growth of the animals’ testes.
  • 1996 - Scientist Lou Guillette publishes his finding that male alligators in Florida’s Lake Apopka have strikingly low levels of testosterone and abnormally small phallus size. Pesticide residues in this contaminated lake appear to have “feminized” the alligators there.

The alligator story made the news. Here is a quote from, ‘Teeny Weenies’:

What Guillette found in 1994-1995 was a 25% reduction in phallus size in both juvenile and adult males from Lake Apopka. These animals had very low levels of testosterone when compared to alligators from a healthy lake, Lake Woodruff. This most likely contributed to their reduced penis size. But more importantly, a Lake Apopka alligator’s penis size did not faithfully reflect the amount of testosterone in its blood. Something was preventing that testosterone from having the intended effect.


The dangerous side effects of DDT are felt worldwide. Barbados is no exception. Bajans should adopt a greater environmental awareness. I do not know the quality of the Barbadian aquifer, but I do know that Barbados is densely populated. The Barbados water supply should be tested on a regular basis and these results should be made public. Bajans need to know what they are drinking. Without public reporting, Bajans must rely on blind faith in their government. The politicians must be pressured to react.

Bajan men should be aware that alligators in Florida lost 25% of their penis length. If DDT has the same effect on humans, this would translate to one and a half inches for the average man, and more for the well endowed.  The Barbadian fertility rate is already low. Can future generations of Barbadians survive with this handicap?