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Elizabeth Reis, Kari Norgaard participate in panel on the impact of herbicides on water and animal and human health

On October 24th Elizabeth Reis joined Dr. Tyrone Hayes, professor of biology at University of California at Berkeley, on a panel considering the impact of herbicides on water, animal, and human health.

Named an “Emerging Explorer” by National Geographic and the subject of a recent long-form exposé in the New Yorker, Hayes studies the role of steroid hormones on amphibian development and has published over 39 peer reviewed articles on related research. Dr. Hayes’s findings regarding hermaphroditism in frogs as a result of exposure to the commonly-used herbicide Atrazine have created national attention both within academia and beyond. Because of the similarities between amphibian hormonal systems and our own, the work raises startling questions about environmental toxicity, gender, environmental justice, and community health concerns.

Reis’s presentation, “Nature in Doubt: Intersex in a Chemical Era,” focused on the implications of Hayes’s work in the field of gender studies. She explored the ways in which we can assess the human consequences of changes we produce in our environment, including changes to sexual development and gender expression, without resorting to problematic cultural notions of what is “normal”. Professor Kari Norgaard in the Sociology Department responded to the panelists and led a lively discussion about the notion and rhetoric of the “natural” in an environment exposed to hormone-altering herbicides.