He's tenured, raps at scientific meetings, and commands respect in his field—but now the world has a new window
into the mind of an outspoken and controversial frog expert. University of California, Berkeley, endocrinologist Tyrone Hayes has been at war since
2000 with Switzerland-based Syngenta. The fight is over the potential effects of atrazine, an herbicide banned in the European Union and currently the
subject of several U.S. lawsuits. Newly published
e-mails reveal it's a fight that apparently inspired Hayes, 43, to deploy sexually explicit descriptions of rape (here, p. 3), quote rap lyrics and the bible, and
wax philosophical in taunting e-mails he sent to Syngenta employees and others.
Syngenta filed an ethics complaint last month against the tenured professor and
unabashed publicity hound, first covered here. As
part of the complaint, Syngenta has posted an astonishing 102-page document dump of e-mails from Hayes, most sent to
Syngenta employees, whom Hayes considers adversaries. These "personal, explicit and obscene" notes, as the company calls them, are the basis for the
The following are excerpts from Sygenta's complaint quoting Hayes's e-mails, with the page in the pdf indicated.
After a presentation at the meeting of the 2004 Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in Portland (p.16):
so how does it feel to get you're **s whooped in your own house…?
5 September 2006, 6 months before a conference where Hayes was to be the
closing plenary speaker (p.29):
brought to you by the center for disease control and the national birth defects prevention network…
perhaps you want to send out one of your little pathetic letters.
you see…i no longer lead the movement. the movement leads me.
you can turn on your headlights
but you can't see through the HAYES
you can mark your calendar,
but you can't keep track of the DAZE
From "I OWN THIS: A MADMAN'S MANIFESTO" sent to Syngenta on 21 January 2008 (p. 5):
… What kind of insane man is sane enough to recognize his own insanity. … Would you rather get your ass whooped (and you ARE getting your *ss whooped)
by a fool or a genius? ...
My father used to tell me as a child, "work hard in school so that you never have to answer to another man."
5 March 2008, after Syngenta apparently turned down an offer for Hayes to speak to them directly (p. 4):
everywhere i go
i cause a raucus
act like you know
that's how i do it m*th* f*ck*s
9 April 2008, a week before an environmental signaling conference called "e.hormone" (p. 23):
my abstract for e.hormone below. ...
"strike like lightening
voice like thunder
i hear the fear when you call my name
oh so frightening
makes you wonder
if the second coming done already came
WHERE MY DAWGS AT? ATRAZINE AND THE FALL OF MAN
Atrazine is a known endocrine disruptor. … To date, no studies have examined the long term consequences of developmental exposure to atrazine. We
used an all-male line of African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis) to examine effects of exposure to atrazine on reproductive function. …
On 17 March 2010 after an encounter with a Syngenta official (here, p. 8)
you thought you hit a nerve
but i threw a curve
and sho' cold busted a vein//see the man in black just keeps coming back
while you flushin yo
money down the drain
so go'head, bring "your boys"
cuz i'm bringing the noise
i told ya, you can't stop the rage
you been braggin but
we'll see who's tea baggin
when TDawg hits the stage
26 April 2010, after repeated ethics complaints by Syngenta to the university (p. 1):
"If you goin' hit me, you better make d*mn sure I can't get back up"
"Pull your strap on me, ***, you better kill me."
Hayes told ScienceInsider that he "regrets if he offended any supporters or friends" with the language. But he says they were responses "in
kind" to verbal threats and abuse. "Where I come from, whether or not you're proud of it, you stand by what you've said."