London Independent 
Monday, Dec 08, 2008
Evolution is being distorted by pollution, which damages genitals and the ability to father offspring, says new study. Geoffrey Lean reports
The male gender is in danger, with incalculable consequences for both humans and wildlife, startling scientific research from around the world reveals.
The research – to be detailed tomorrow in the most comprehensive report yet published – shows that a host of common chemicals is feminising males of every class of vertebrate animals, from fish to mammals, including people.
Backed by some of the world’s leading scientists, who say that it “waves a red flag” for humanity and shows that evolution itself is being disrupted, the report comes out at a particularly sensitive time for ministers. On Wednesday, Britain will lead opposition to proposed new European controls on pesticides, many of which have been found to have “gender-bending” effects.
It also follows hard on the heels of new American research which shows that baby boys born to women exposed to widespread chemicals in pregnancy are born with smaller penises and feminised genitals.
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“This research shows that the basic male tool kit is under threat,” says Gwynne Lyons, a former government adviser on the health effects of chemicals, who wrote the report.
Wildlife and people have been exposed to more than 100,000 new chemicals in recent years, and the European Commission has admitted that 99 per cent of them are not adequately regulated. There is not even proper safety information on 85 per cent of them.
Many have been identified as “endocrine disrupters” – or gender-benders – because they interfere with hormones. These include phthalates, used in food wrapping, cosmetics and baby powders among other applications; flame retardants in furniture and electrical goods; PCBs, a now banned group of substances still widespread in food and the environment; and many pesticides.