Aug 23, 2022
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‘Roundup’ weed killer can cause convulsions in animals

In a recent report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided evidence that more than 80 percent of urine samples from children and adults in the United States contained the herbicide glyphosate, which is the main ingredient in Roundup®, the world’s most commonly used weed killer. Now a team of researchers led by Florida Atlantic University (FAU) has discovered that the use of Roundup® can affect the nervous system of animals, leading to convulsions and other health hazards.

“We are concerned about how little we understand the effects of glyphosate on the nervous system,” said study lead author Akshay S. Narain, PhD student in the FAU Department of Integrative Biology and Neurology. “There is growing evidence of how common glyphosate exposure is, so this work will hopefully encourage other researchers to expand on these findings and clarify what we should be concerned about.”

Researchers used C. elegans, a soil-dwelling roundworm, to test both glyphosate alone and US and UK Roundup® formulations over two different time periods – before and after the UK ban on polyethoxylated thalovamins (POEAs) from 2016 .

The study found that all of these substances increased seizure-like behavior in roundworms, providing strong evidence that glyphosate affects GABA-A receptors (which are fundamental to locomotion and sleep and mood regulation in humans). These effects have been observed at significantly lower concentrations of glyphosate than those considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“The concentration listed on the label for Roundup® Super Concentrate for best results is 0.98% glyphosate, which is approximately five tablespoons of Roundup® in one gallon of water. A significant result from our study showed that only 0.002 percent glyphosate, which is about 300 times less than the lowest concentration of herbicide recommended for consumer use had effects on the nervous system,” Narain said.

“Given how widespread the use of these products is, we need to learn as much as we can about the potential negative impacts that could exist,” said study senior author Ken Dawson-Scully, a neuroscientist at Nova Southeastern University. “There have been studies in the past that showed potential dangers, and our study takes it one step further with some pretty dramatic results.”

Further research is needed to find out how chronic exposure and accumulation of glyphosate can lead to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.

“Currently, there is no information on how glyphosate and Roundup® exposure may affect people diagnosed with epilepsy or other seizure disorders. Our study indicates a significant impairment of locomotion and should prompt further vertebrate research,” concluded Professor Dawson-Scully.

The study is published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.

In response to this study, Bayer issued the following statement: “It is important to note that this study was conducted on worms. Studies with worms do not meet the scientific standards necessary to predict exposure to humans or other mammals in order to assess the safety of pesticides.”

“Safety scientists at regulatory agencies around the world have studied glyphosate and other ingredients in glyphosate-based herbicides and specifically looked at whether they can harm the nervous system, based on data from high-dose studies in mammals, not worms.”

“Scientists who have reviewed all available evidence have concluded that neither glyphosate nor other ingredients in glyphosate-based herbicides cause damage to the nervous system at doses significantly higher than those to which a person may be exposed.”

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