Cover image for Altering Eden : the feminization of nature
Altering Eden : the feminization of nature
Cadbury, Deborah.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Feminization of nature
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.

Physical Description:
xi, 292 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Previously published: The feminization of nature. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1997.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RA1224.2 .C33 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A worldwide decline in sperm counts and diseases affecting male and female reproductive organs are blamed on chemicals that mimic the female hormone estrogen.

Author Notes

Deborah Cadbury is an award-winning TV science producer for the BBC. She is also the author of "The Feminization of Nature". She lives in London.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

We are living in a stew of artificial, estrogen-mimicking chemicals, according to the scientists British science journalist Cadbury so vividly portrays in this harrowing chronicle of discovery. The story begins earlier this decade when wildlife biologists began noticing a disturbing number of male fish and alligators with deformed reproductive organs, while doctors were charting a rise in male infertility. The search for explanations of the seemingly unrelated phenomena unveiled an alarming drop in male hormone production, or the "feminization of nature," which led scientists from various disciplines in the U.S. and Europe to the identical culprits: chemicals used in electrical equipment, pesticides, and plastics. The synthetic estrogens have permeated our atmosphere, water, and food to such an extent they are altering the sex hormone chemistry of a daunting number of species, including our own. Cadbury, precise and evenhanded, carefully elucidates the research involved and the conclusions reached regarding our exposure to environmental estrogens, their links to specific cancers, and the potentially catastrophic impact this aberrant chemistry may have on the future. --Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

With the world population now exceeding six billion, it may seem strange that scientists are worried about threats to human fertility. Yet dramatic decreases in human sperm counts (a 50% decline since the 1940s) and soaring rates of testicular cancer suggest that there is cause for concern. Science journalist Cadbury, here expanding her Emmy-winning Horizon program "Assault on the Male," presents evidence that the widespread use of synthetic chemicals has disrupted our and other animals' natural hormonal systems, in effect flooding them with megadoses of estrogenlike substances that "feminize" males and contribute to breast cancer and myriad other problems. The list of suspect chemicals is alarming: DES, DDT, PCBs, plastics (used in everything from washing machines to dental sealants and food packaging), even birth-control pills. Traces of these substances have been detected in soil, water, wildlife and humans from around the globe, and have been implicated in such conditions as animal hermaphroditism, impaired sperm quality, microphallus, prostate cancer, endometriosis and even impaired intelligence. How researchers began to recognize the problem and piece together its clues is a compelling and frightening story, which Cadbury tells with journalistic verve. Though she admits that a definite causal relationship between chemical exposure and reproductive abnormalities has not yet been proven, she finds the evidence compelling. This is a chilling account of industrialization's adverseÄand perhaps irreversibleÄeffects. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Will humanity survive the adverse effects of its own creations? Scientists investigating the "feminization of nature" have unraveled complex evidence to reach a frightening conclusion. In the past 50 years, human sperm counts have fallen an estimated 50 percent worldwide, reproductive abnormalities in the males of many species have risen dramatically, and human-made estrogenic chemicals are the most likely culprit. Cadbury, an Emmy Award-winning British journalist who produced a documentary on this issue for British television in the early 1990s, tells this true-life detective story, an account of collaborative efforts among scientists in many disciplines to document the decline in male reproductive health. A highly readable book with a dramatic presentation, this is also a carefully crafted and footnoted history of a scientific debate that has profound implications for current public health and policy. The reader is presented with the views of scientists on both sides of the issue as well as a fascinating account of industry and media response. Recommended for public and academic libraries.ÄNoemie Maxwell Vassilakis, Seattle Midwifery Sch. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.