Use of Pesticides Found to Reduce Fertility in Farmers: Study

Efthymis Oraiopoulos
By Efthymis Oraiopoulos
November 20, 2023World News
Use of Pesticides Found to Reduce Fertility in Farmers: Study
A farmer spreads pesticide on a field in Centreville, Maryland, on April 25, 2022. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

The most common pesticides in agriculture and gardening can reduce male fertility, according to a new study.

The new meta-analysis reviewed 25 past studies spanning decades, consisting of 1,700 male participants in total. It found that the most common pesticides used today, specifically organophosphates (OPs) and N-methyl carbamates (NMCs), reduce the sperm count in men.

All of the 25 past studies showed that men with more exposure to these pesticides had lower sperm counts compared to men with less exposure.

The paper talks about exposure through farming or textile work, where these chemicals are used. It does not address exposure through eating food from which pesticides were used. These pesticides however are also used in gardening and construction.

It also found that despite stark evidence of male infertility due to pesticide usage, meta-analyses of these studies are rare.

Regulation is also missing, despite the clear warning signs.

“The strength of evidence warrants reducing exposure to OP and NMC insecticides now to prevent continued male reproductive harm,” according to the study, published by the Environmental Health Perspectives journal in November.

The Environmental Health Perspectives journal is supported by the National Institutes of Health.

“Over the course of 50 years, sperm concentration has fallen about 50 percent around the world,” said senior study author Melissa Perry, dean of the College of Public Health at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

“What is not known is the culprit,” Ms. Perry said. “While there are likely many more contributing causes, our study demonstrates a strong association between two common insecticides—organophosphates and N-methyl carbamates—and the decline of sperm concentration.”


Organophosphates (OPs) are used in the most common pesticides today, and are thought to cause damage to humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website.

They are also used in insecticides, herbicides, and to create plastic and solvents.

In lab rats, studies of different organophosphates showed more adrenal, thyroid, and pancreatic tumors, according to the CDC.

“They are widely used in agriculture on the crops we eat,” Ms. Perry said. “We use them in structural applications within homes and buildings, apartment buildings, as well as for ornamental lawn upkeep. They’re available for consumer purchase so organophosphate exposures have been demonstrated to be relatively widespread.”

NMC’s are structurally similar to OPs and their result is also similar, killing insects by damaging their brains and nervous system.

They are used to make insecticides that are applied to a “variety of field, fruit, and vegetable crops for control of beetles, borers, nematodes, weevils and similar pests,” according to the CDC.

“As we sort of start to close the net around factors that could negatively impact fertility, these pesticides start to rise to the top,”  Dr. Alexander Pastuszak, an assistant professor of surgery and urology at The University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, told CNN. He was not involved in the new study.

“There’s enough evidence to really start to say yes, these types of compounds can negatively affect fertility in men,” he said. “Ultimately, you don’t know the impact on actual fertility until and unless you start trying to get pregnant.”

Who Produces Them

The biggest producer of pesticides is Syngenta, a company bought by the communist Chinese regime.

It is followed by German multinational Bayer, which bought Monsanto, and many other companies. Monsanto is an American company and producer of glyphosate-containing weedkiller Roundup. It has been brought to court several times after accusations of cancers in farmers who were using Roundup, and has paid millions of dollars in court settlements.

“Monsanto is a serial violator of federal environmental laws,” according to United States Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison. “The company repeatedly violated laws related to highly regulated chemicals, exposing people to pesticides that can cause serious health problems.”

Bayer is also one of the “leading suppliers of veterinary products in China” with its head office and a plant in Chengdu, according to its website. It is also involved in genetically modified crops through Monsanto.

Monsanto’s Research

Unlike true and objective scientific inquiry, Bayer’s Monsanto and other multinationals have steered U.S. regulators through the funding of non-profit organizations that give recommendations to the regulators. One such body is the Washington non-profit International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), which is funded by dozens of large agricultural businesses and food multinational companies.

ILSI gives recommendation and influences the formulation of legislation on what is considered safe for human consumption. It has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from pesticide producer Syngenta, Bayer, Pepsico, General Mills, McDonald’s, Unilever, and Mondelez, according to its draft tax returns.

A 2020 study, published on the National Library of Medicine, using Freedom of Information requests, received several emails ILSI sent to University researchers. It concluded that “ILSI’s funding by corporate entities leads to industry influence over some of ILSI activities.”

NTD reached out to Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, and ILSI for comment.

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