Cultural Entomology and Estrogenic Compounds

Strictly speaking, I am not sure where this topic fits in the scheme of entomology disciplines. It arises out of the constant interaction between plants and herbivorous insects. This negative impact of this constant interaction (as far as we are concerned) has resulted in a whole industry devoted to the study of insect pests and their destruction. Normally then, such a topic might fit best under pest management / integrated pest management / agricultural entomology or something like that. However, the impact of pesticides and pesticide residues crosses disciplines into natural history, wildlife management, chemistry, medicine and other fields.

I consider the impact of this war a cultural issue. In our battle against ``THE BUG'', we have waged a true war using all the weapons at our disposal, often despite our lack of understanding of how many things really work. This war has cost, and continues to cost billions and billions of dollars. It has consumed the lives of many peoples. It has contributed to our understanding of many aspects of biology. It has resulted in many technological advances. It has resulted in a plethora of rules and regulations. It has affected and continues to affect the lives of everyone on this planet. In the process, we have done ourselves and our environment grievous harm.

Many pesticides have estrogenic properties or have breakdown products that have estrogenic properties. Many plants have secondary metabolites that are estrogenic. In 1994, as part of the requirements for a nutrition course I was taking, I prepared a document, I titled Estrogens and Estrogenic Exposure. It barely touches the surface of this large cross-disciplinary topic. Much work has been done since 1994.

Feel free to email comments, corrections or criticisms. I feel this is a serious environmental problem, which, from where I stand, has received little public attention. Janet Raloff's articles in Science News in 1994 made me aware of it.

Ron Lyons (volunteer 1990-1999)
Chula Vista Nature Center, 1000 Gunpowder Point Drive, Chula Vista, CA 91910-1201