Scientists have discovered a link between the world’s most widely used weed killer and trauma in animals – raising questions about the herbicide’s possible effects on the human nervous system as well.
Exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, increased seizure-like behavior in soil-dwelling roundworms, according to the researchers, who published their findings Tuesday in Scientific Reports.
With the use of glyphosate expected to increase dramatically in the coming years, it is important to understand its potential effects on human health, according to the study.
“It’s concerning how little we understand the effects of glyphosate on the nervous system,” said lead author Akshay Narayan, Ph.D. candidate at Florida Atlantic University and the International Max Planck Research School for Synapses and Circuits, said in a statement.
“More evidence is mounting for the prevalent risk of glyphosate, so this work hopes to help other researchers expand on these findings and solidify where our concerns should be,” Narayan added.
Just last month, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 80 percent of urine sampled by the agency was at or above the detection limit for glyphosate, The Hill reported.
Bayer, which manufactures Roundup, has faced thousands of lawsuits alleging the product causes cancer. While the International Agency for Research on Cancer considered glyphosate a “probable” carcinogen in 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency said in 2020 that there was insufficient evidence to show that the chemical is a possible or probable carcinogen.
In Tuesday’s study, Narayan and his colleagues said they used roundworms C. elegans To test the effects of glyphosate alone and from two different periods of US formulation of Roundup and UK production.
The two windows in question were before and after 2016, at which time the UK banned a surfactant – called polyethoxylated teloamine – that was in earlier formulas.
These different conditions, the scientists explained, helped them figure out which effects were specific to the active ingredient glyphosate.
Finally, the authors found that glyphosate increased seizures C. elegans and concluded that a receptor protein called GABA-A was the neurological target for the physiological changes observed. In humans, these receptors are essential for locomotion and contribute to sleep and mood regulation, according to the authors.
Scientists often use C. to explain human disease and development. elegans, because they share a common ancestor.
The data revealed a significant difference between glyphosate alone and exposure to Roundup – the percentage increased with exposure to Roundup. C. elegans Who didn’t recover from the forced activity, according to the study.
The scientists also used much lower levels of glyphosate and Roundup than recommended in the product — 300 times less herbicide than the lowest concentration recommended for consumer use.
However, they found that roundworms were infected at concentrations that were 1,000 times more diluted than concentrations previously considered toxic.
“Given how widespread the use of these products is, we need to learn as much as we can about the potential negative effects that may exist,” Ken Dawson-Scully, professor of neurobiology and Narayan’s faculty advisor, said in a statement.
“There have been studies done in the past that have shown potential dangers, and our study takes that a step further with some pretty dramatic results,” added Dawson-Schooley, who also serves as senior vice president and associate provost at Nova Southeastern University. .
Roundworms already experience convulsions when exposed to thermal stress — and these new findings show that exposure to glyphosate and Roundup can exacerbate these effects, according to Narayan.
“This could prove to be important as we experience the effects of climate change,” Narayan said.
Dawson-Schooley acknowledged that at this point, “there is no insight into how exposure to glyphosate and Roundup may affect people diagnosed with epilepsy or other seizure disorders.”
“Our study indicates that there is a significant constraint on locomotion and further vertebrate studies are warranted,” he said.
The Hill reached out to Bayer for comment.