A new report by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United States, found significant levels of glyphosate herbicide in 80 percent of urine samples from adults and children in the U.S. To know its impact on living beings, researchers at the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and Nova Southeastern University, U.S., experimented and discovered that commercially available Roundup®, caused convulsions in animals.
What is Roundup®?
Roundup® is a brand name for a glyphosate-based herbicide commonly used in the United States. Eighty percent of transgenic (genetically modified) crops are cultivated using glyphosate. It is sprayed on the plants (weeds) and prevents them from making certain proteins they need to grow. After a few days or weeks, these weeds die and let other crops grow. Manufacturers blend glyphosate with other chemicals that make it adhere to the sprayed weeds and soil to prevent desirable crops from getting damaged.
Roundup® is used at both industrial and customer end, and its use seems to increase over the coming years. However, it has been associated with causing health issues in humans and animals.
Why are people against Roundup® use?
Roundup® has been in controversy for causing cancer for the past few years. However, there is no confirmed evidence for this. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency, United States) has said that glyphosate has low toxicity for humans, but if exposed to its high amount, it can be lethal. Further, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a WHO (World Health Organisation) body, has classified glyphosate as partially carcinogenic or cancer-causing to humans. Due to limited evidence, Roundup® is still being used as a herbicide to grow transgenic crops, such as cotton, soybean, maize, etc. This raises the question of how much we know about its effects. That’s what the study has tried to answer by identifying its impact on the nervous system of living organisms.
What did the study find?
Researchers added glyphosate to the soil containing Caenorhabditis elegans, a free-living transparent roundworm commonly found in temperate soil. They found that glyphosate caused convulsions in these roundworms by affecting GABA-A receptors in the central nervous system. These receptors are sensitive to many drugs and are responsible for causing neuro-physiological changes. The results also indicated that an increased amount of Roundup® caused prolonged convulsions in roundworms and did not allow their recovery.
“Given how widespread the use of these products is, we must learn as much as we can about the potential negative impacts that may exist,” said Ken Dawson-Scully, professor at Nova Southeastern University. “There have been studies done in the past that showed the potential dangers, and our study takes that one step further with some pretty dramatic results.”
The study has set up a foundation to further investigate the effects of glyphosate and Roundup® on the human central nervous system and how their exposure may lead to neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease.
“As of now, there is no information for how exposure to glyphosate and Roundup® may affect humans diagnosed with epilepsy or other seizure disorders,” said Dawson-Scully. “Our study indicates that there is significant disruption in locomotion and should prompt further vertebrate studies.”
The study results were published in the journal Scientific Reports.