Atrazine, Glyphosate and Other Pollutants Have Killed Our Hankering to Eat Fish

For years In-Fishermen has been a proponent of anglers consuming a selective number of fish that they catch. It has also published many delightful recipes for preparing a variety of fish for the table.

But since the turn of the century, my family began eating fewer and fewer fish that we caught.  Now, to our chagrin, we eat none.

The reason for that is the waterways around northeastern Kansas are polluted with contaminants, such as pesticides that some experts suspect are human carcinogens. They also can be toxic to our aquatic denizens.

What's more, significant quantities of manmade nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers are washed into our reservoirs and streams from farmlands, yards, parks and golf courses. These fertilizers are thought to be the source of the increasing number of poignant algal blooms that have been afflicting many of our reservoirs, and these blooms can stress the fish and cause them to become afflicted with fungi and bacterial infections.  Anglers might be interested in reading about the blue-green algae bloom that has hit Milford Lake, Kansas,  at // By the way, Milford is where In-Fisherman's Professional Walleye Tournament Trail staged its championship in 2005.

For several decades, the herbicide atrazine was a major pollutant. As far back as 1989 the atrazine concentration in Perry Lake, Kansas, was greater than the maximum contaminant level established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Even though Pomona Lake doesn't exceed EPA's maximum contaminant level of atrazine, Don George, who is the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism's fisheries biologist in charge of Pomona Lake, says the silt that lies on the bottom of the lake is laced with significant concentrations of Atrazine.  Several years ago, George described it as a troubling situation.  George noted, however, that the Atrazine  levels have diminished at Pomona in recent years, and he suspects that the reason for this decline is that area farmers are planting fewer acres of milo and more acres of genetically modified corn, which is sprayed with glyphosate.

Now glyphosate has become the omnipresent herbicide. Monsanto Company's Roundup and Aquamaster and Dow Agrosciences' Rodeo are glyphosate products.

Some observers say we have developed a somewhat irrational phobia about weeds, and  critics say Roundup is being used almost promiscuously  One of the absurdities of this overuse of Roundup has been the creation of some herbicide-resistant weeds, which are called super weeds. Some researchers fear that to control the super weeds will necessitate the usage of more potent herbicides.

Beginning in the late 1970s, various studies and reports noted that glyphosate rapidly dissipated into aminomethylphosphonic acid and carbon dioxide.  Thus, it was proclaimed to be harmless to humans and the environment.

Initially glyphosate wasn't considered a water contaminant.  The reason why it wasn't deemed a contaminant in our waterways was that researchers didn't have the tools to measure its existence and determine its consequences.

But now researchers are beginning to discover that fish and aquatic invertebrates can be adversely affected by glyphosate, and its toxicity increases with higher water temperatures and pH.

Recently three researchers from School of Public Health, University of Minnesota at Minneapolis published a report on their field work, which focused on collecting on a weekly basis integrated air particles and rain samples during two growing seasons in agricultural areas of Mississippi and Iowa. Rain was also collected in Indiana in a preliminary phase of the study any of the fish that we catch. Their data revealed that the frequency of glyphosate detection ranged from 60 to 100% in both air and rain.

On top of the effects of the pesticides and algae blooms, there are some concerns about mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls levels in our waters. My family has finally become concerned enough about the state of our  waterways and the fish that inhabit them that it has provoked us to not eat any of the fish that we catch.

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top In-Fisherman stories delivered right to your inbox.