Monday, September 22, 2008

Telling Half The Story

When groups like Lifesite take it upon themselves to parrot the news, you can almost guarantee that they'll only tell half the story.

Consider the following story from Lifesite: Contraceptive Hormones Mutating Fish in St. Lawrence River

Estrogen from birth control pills in highly populated areas of Canada is washing into the water table and flooding the St. Lawrence River, a new study has found. University of Montreal researchers said that the St. Lawrence River near Montreal has an alarmingly high level of estrogens that are mutating male fish.


... and oh-my-goodness, the compounds in question just happen to be those used in female birth control pills.

In fact, if you only read the story on Lifesite, which they lifted their facts from this CBC story for, you'd think that there was this looming catastrophe about to occur, all because of female contraceptives.

Then there's reality:

While researchers found estrodiol, a naturally occurring hormone that all women — particularly pregnant ones — release, they discovered synthetic estrogenic compounds as well.

"They're really pharmaceuticals which are used either as contraceptives or in hormone replacement therapy," Sauvé said.

Sauvé said even though HRT use has dropped dramatically in Quebec in the past few years, what ends up in the wastewater is still significant. Some compounds are filtered out at the sediment plant, but most ends up in the St. Lawrence.

Also implicated are the byproducts of plastics as they break down, and effluent from pulp and paper mills.


It's not like nothing is being done about it either:

Environmental engineers are hoping the hormones and other pharmaceuticals in human waste will be destroyed for good once Montreal installs a new ozonation process at its plant.
...
Sauvé's fellow researchers are among those now running tests to make sure the process will work on a grand scale.


Of course, none of that warrants a mention in Lifesite's article.

And, let's not ignore the impact of the chemistry that industrial activity often dumps into the river systems.

Similarly, Lifesite's article implies that what happens to fish applies equally to humans. Of course, what they don't discuss is that mammal biology and response to estrogen ingestion is quite different than that of fish who literally are living in the chemical stew that is being dumped into the rivers.

Lifesite - when you want a 'Chicken Little' version of the world, and real news sources when you want to know what's actually happening.

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