On August 6, 2015, a man who made a difference in the world left this plane of existence for another. He changed the way that we understand our world and, in so doing, he warned us of what we need to do to protect it.
Dr. Louis Guillette, the alligator scientist, noted for his studies on alligators on Lake Apopka and the effects of pesticides on wildlife, and, hence, on humans, died after a life-time of work that took him around the world and helped open up a new realm of science that identified chemicals in the environment that impact the endocrine systems of animals and, ultimately, of humans.
Farmworkers worked for decades on Lake Apopka. They were exposed to the same chemicals that caused reproductive abnormalities in the alligators on the lake. While agency officials and environmentalists were dismissing the importance of the chemical contamination on the lake, Dr. Guillette continued to sound the alarm that persistent chemicals are causing endocrine disruption in possibly more than just the alligators.
The Farmworker Association of Florida and the community of Lake Apopka farmworkers are deeply saddened by this great loss. Dr. Guillette – Lou – and his anthropologist wife, Buzzy, participated in community meetings with the farmworker community to demand answers to their questions about their pesticide exposure on Lake Apopka. Unlike other scientists afraid to take their science one step further and advocate for change, Dr. Guillette was a hero to many in our community, in Florida and around the world. His work is cited in many publications, books, and journals.
We will always remember Dr. Guillette as one of the few people who listened, cared about, understood and spoke out for the farmworkers on Lake Apopka. Our hearts break. We will miss him greatly.
Dr. Louis Guillette was a keynote speaker at the Pesticide Forum in Orlando in April of this year. The Beyond Pesticides annual Forum was co-sponsored by FWAF. Click here to view a video of Dr. Guillette’s keynote address.