Environmental Risk of Spot-on Insecticides on Pets – The Animal Doctor

It is evident to me, as author of several articles and books on bioethics, that the Alabama Supreme Court ruling of personhood for in vitro fertilized (IVF) human eggs, classifying these frozen embryos as “extrauterine children,” is a moralistic decision that is bioethically compromised. This is part of what I see as a politically and emotionally convoluted pro-life sentiment that can cause more harm than good and calls for bioethical revision.

One example is the releasing of unadopted cats from “no kill” shelters to fend for themselves in our communities. These cats suffer and do not live long compared to in-home cats who are properly cared for. It should be a federal offense to release any non-native species, from cats to pet pythons. Euthanasia of such animals would be humane and bioethically and environmentally sound.

Is it ethical for pro-lifers to fabricate legislation that denies women their reproductive rights and limits access to birth control? The closing of abortion clinics has created a humanitarian crisis in many communities where the reproductive rights of women have been taken away by the courts. Incorporating bioethics into our judicial and educational systems may prevent us from falling deeper into the abyss of moralistic determinism and chauvinism. We must recognize that we have a population problem, and abortion is not an immoral but an ethical decision.

Since 2017, the prevalence of undernourishment has been on the rise. The number of undernourished people has climbed from 572 million then to about 735 million today. (

Infertility and demand for IVF may be due, in part, to endocrine-disrupting pesticides and other chemicals that have been increasing in the environment and our food and water over the past half-century. Their effects on wildlife, alligators in particular, are well documented. (See Louis J. Guillette et al. Alligators and Endocrine Disrupting Contaminants: A Current Perspective, American Zoologist, Volume 40, Issue 3, June 2000, Pages 438-452;

These and other chemicals can also cause infertility, birth defects and cancer. Cognitive impairment and nongenetic susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease are linked to diesel and petrol air pollution from vehicular traffic with fine particulate matter (PM 2.5). (See Christensen GM. et al. Association of PM 2.5 Exposure and Alzheimer Disease Pathology in Brain Bank Donors — Effect Modification by APOE Genotype. Neurology, Feb. 21, 2024;

Our rising population of over 8 billion is displacing many other species — with some, like the great whales, condors, chimpanzees and elephants, now on the verge of extinction. A declaration of personhood for these and other endangered species, and protection under international rule of law, would be more relevant than the Alabama law. I see IVF as a bioethically questionable biotechnology applied as a money-making corrective of the dysbiosis we have brought upon ourselves and to life on Earth. Being pro-life should not be self-serving, human-centered moralistic sentimentalism but rather serve as an ethical basis for civil society to incorporate respect and protection for all creatures great and small.

Legal personhood has been signed into law in New Zealand for the Whanganui River and the Te Urewera. Now Maori and Pacific leaders are proposing the same for whales as a further step to protect the environment, according to Aaron Smale. (For details, go to

The quest to have the courts recognize the legal personhood of elephants, chimpanzees and other self-aware animals in the wild and in captivity has been going on for decades. It was, in part, sparked by attorney Christopher D. Stone’s 1972 book “Should Trees Have Standing?”. We have been slow to recognize that as contributors to the health of the oceans, whales are of far greater value than their meat and oil, and that our own well-being is dependent upon the health of the oceans. So, out of enlightened self-interest, all nations should recognize the personhood of whales and protect them from further harm.


Posting from Earthjustice, Dec. 19, 2023:

“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the agency will not challenge the November ruling of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals that overturned EPA’s rule banning the use of the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos in food. This means that a handful of chemical companies, including Gharda Chemicals, which filed the challenge against the EPA’s ban, can sell this toxic pesticide again, even though it is linked to learning disabilities and behavioral disorders in children.

According to EPA, alfalfa, apple, asparagus, cherry, citrus, cotton, peach, soybean, strawberry, sugar beet and wheat, which is more than half of the chlorpyrifos uses, will be allowed to have chlorpyrifos again. Studies done by Columbia University and others have linked chlorpyrifos exposure to neurodevelopmental harm in children. (

“Very small exposures to chlorpyrifos can cause irreversible harm to the developing brains of children, resulting in impairments like decreased IQ, autism and hyperactivity,” Erin Fitzgerald of Earthjustice notes.

We should all wonder why it is still permissible for farmers to put poisons in their produce that we consume and that kill beneficial insects and soil microorganisms. It is not an overstatement that this loss of biodiversity is ecocide, and the use of such chemicals, homicide.

(Send all mail to or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

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