IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA,
GREAT JOB MR. PARMAR
it is good to eat as many as vegetables and fruits (totally vegetarian), but my aurvedic doctor asked me to stop eating every...
A REPORT presented in mid-July by the
Institute for Environment and Health
(mii), Leicester, United Kingdom, has
hit hard especially those living in the
northern hemisphere. It makes a startling statement that 60,000 human-made chemicals are likely to be causing
not only impotency among men and
wildlife, but might actually lead to
complete sex change. According to
Lewis Smith, who is the director of the
institute, sperm quality and sperm
counts of males in the West have been
deteriorating apparently due to harmless chemicals which are used as ingredients in commonly used substances like
detergents, plastic wrappers and food additives.
Alarm bells were first sounded 3
years ago, when the Denmark-based
reproductive biologist Niels Skakkebaek
published a sensational article in the
medical journal, Lancet,'claiming that
environmental toxins were a serious
threat to human reproductive systems.
He looked at 61 sperm count studies
published between 1938 and 1966, and
noted that the mean sperm concentration had declined from 113 million per
millilitre in 1940 to 66 million per millilitre in 1990. However, Skakkebaek concluded, "We certainly do not claim that
there has been a decline in sperm count
during the second half of the study period ... but there is a big difference between the first part and the last," he concluded.
Scientists working with the IEH are
emphatic that the rise in the cases
of testicular cancer and the evidence
that sperm counts were on the decline
in the West, were real. The chemicals
mimic the female hormone oestrogen
or block the mate hormone and rogeri,
causing female characteristics to
develop in males. They have also been
linked with a rise in cases of undescended testes, shrinking penises and
a marked rise in female breast cancer.
But most alarmingly, the researchers
suspect that if these chemicals are
behind such effects, major damage is
likely to be 'caused to the unborn child
in the womb.
The British government's reaction
to the report has been somewhat disappointing. While the Environment Department has volunteered to fund research into the screening of
chemicals, the government has flatly refused to
ban any chemicals as a
Smith does not seem too
disturbed by the developments. A total ban could
not be justified until
firmer evidence was gathered, he maintains.
But the environmentalists, however, are clamouring for immediate and
more strident action
aginst what they term as system
"gender bending" pollution. "The Government
should apply the precautionary principle to protect the public from it.
Bland reassurances and
moves towards more ' research are unacceptable, "
rages Richard Dixon of the
environmental group, Friends of the Earth, supported by Gwynne Lyons
who is a pollution consultant to the World Wide Fund for
Nature. Lyons stresses that immediate
action is needed to reduce human and
wildlife exposure to harmful chemicals
through a crackdown on emissions to rivers, takes and seas.
The research work conducted till
now indicates that this is a definite
"West-oriented" malady. But experts
working in the field of environmetal
health hazards harbour serious doubts,
and opine that the disease could be a
reality in India as well. "The present
trend of inclustrialisation renders the
Indians extremely vulnerable to the
destructive chemicals," says K R Nair, a
senior medical researcher with the
Department of Community Health and
Medicine in Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. "I have nothing against
liberalisation," he stresses, "But in the
recent months I have watched with
alarm the projects that are being cleared
at random by @he government. Most of
them are manufficturing units of chemicals or cheniftal products, ranging
from plastics to linoleum."
And these i according to him are
proposed by M@ltinationals. "It is as if
there is a deliberate attempt to shift the hazardous
industries from the North
to,the South," says Nair.
bAr 'en this situation,
Nair feels there is an
urgent need to conduct
sperm count studies in India too.
Rajlaxmi, a member
of the Department of
reproductive biology in
the All India Institute of
Medical Sciences, New
Delhi, who presently
heads a cell examining
male fertility rates in
India, informs that such a
study is almost complete.
"We are examining studies published from the
year 1930," she claims.
However, she refused to
comment further on the
implications , of this
research and even re-frained from commenting
on the study conducted by Skakkebaek.