review by Andrew T. Fisher

Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival?óA Scientific Detective Story* is urgent, interesting, and controversial. In many ways this book is the next step in environmental awareness beyond Rachel Carsonís landmark book, Silent Spring. Vice President Al Gore requested to write the foreword.

Basically, the book makes the following points:

  • If the developing fetus is exposed to very small doses (in parts per billion or less), of certain man-made chemicals at certain critical times, when the young one grows up it may have extremely altered sexual development and may not be able to reproduce at all. Amazingly small doses can also disrupt intelligence, the immune system, and behavior.
  • These same small doses do not appear to harm adults, only the delicate fetus at these critical times.
  • Many of these drastic changes have already occurred in wildlife including whales, gulls, mice, seals, and polar bears.
  • Many man-made polluting chemicals such as PCBs and DDT have traveled everywhere globally, from the Amazon to the Arctic. No uncontaminated "safe clean" areas remain.
  • These harmful chemicals accumulate and concentrate in fat as they move up the food chain from micro-organisms to fish, and then to man.
  • Even though evolution over the past thousands of years has greatly changed manís physical appearance and brain size, and most biology and history has concentrated on these changes, our complex and delicate chemical hormone system has changed very little. In fact, this system, which is vital for reproduction, intelligence, and immunity, is practically the same in all vertebrates, including ourselves.
  • This hormone system is disrupted by these chemicals that we are spewing into our environment.
  • One of the best ways to fight this problem is to totally change our approach toward chemical manufacturing. Recently, thousands of new chemicals have flooded our ecosystem every year. Every chemical should be presumed "guilty" until proven innocent, so no new chemicals should be approved until extensive long term testing has been completed.
  • We should raise and purchase only "organic" produce, grown without any pesticides. Despite our dumping tons of toxic pesticides on farms and lawns, the insects and plant disease organisms are rapidly becoming immune, so the chemicals do little if any good and a whole lot of harm, including the contamination of our drinking water and air.
  • In nature, everything totally recycles itself, one animalís waste is another plantís food. We should do the same with our entire civilization. Separate and/or create all "waste" so that it can be re-used. In this way, there will be no more toxic waste dumps or raw sewage flowing into lakes and rivers.


*by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers, Dutton (a division of Penguin USA), March 1996, hard back, 306 pages, $24.95.

Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XXI, No. 3, Summer 1996, page 1.