A plan to screen pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides for endocrine disruptor activity could be bad news for the manufacturers of those synthetics, but good news for research in biocontrols, a natural alternative to those chemicals. Recently, the Endocrine Disruptor Screening and Testing Advisory Committee (EDSTAC) recommended that about 15,000 commercial chemicals be tested for their interaction with reproduction and development (P. Smaglik, The Scientist, 12[18]:1, Sept. 14, 1998). Although those screenings have not officially begun, the completion of the project could mean the discontinuation of many products that have already been anecdotally implicated in birth defects in animals.

Jo Handelsman
"If we lose some of the key fungicides on which agriculture is currently dependent, then we need to supply some alternatives," remarks Jo Handelsman, a professor of plant pathology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Alternatives include boosting existing soil bacteria to fight fungus,...

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