Daily News Archive
From June 8, 2005

Study Shows Glyphosate and Roundup Pesticide Toxic To Fetus
(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2005)
A new study recently published in the peer-reviewed journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, found damaging endocrine effects of glyphosate and Roundup to fetal growth at levels 10 times lower than used in agriculture. The product formulation Roundup was shown to be at least twice as toxic as the active ingredient alone.

“Here we show that glyphosate is toxic to human placental JEG3 cells within 18 hr with concentrations lower than those found with agricultural use, and this effect increases with concentration and time or in the presence of Roundup adjuvants.

"We conclude that endocrine and toxic effects of Roundup, not just glyphosate, can be observed in mammals,” say the researchers.

The researchers also suggest that the glyphosate pesticide product, Roundup, enhances glyphosate bioavailability, and/or bioaccumulation.

The study tested glyphosate and Roundup toxicity on human placental cells and evaluated its capacity to act as an endocrine disruptor. To do this, they measured the effects at "nontoxic" levels on aromatase, a mammalian enzyme crucial for sex steroid hormone synthesis and physiologic functions, including female and male reproduction, sex differentiation, and bone growth.

According to the researchers, the study demonstrates that Roundup acts as a disruptor of aromatase activity from concentrations 100 times lower than the recommended use in agriculture. The effect they report is noticeable on human placental cells after only 18 hours.

Researchers also observed, “that Roundup reduces JEG3 cell viability at least twice more efficiently than glyphosate. This effect increased with time and was obtained with concentrations of Roundup 10 times lower than that of the agricultural use.”

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is the number one used pesticide in U.S. agriculture (between 85 and 90 million pounds), and the second most commonly used non-agricultural pesticide (between 8 and 11 million pounds) in the U.S. Its use is prominent also in genetically modified plants, which means it enters the food chain over and above regular residues found on food. Some agricultural workers using glyphosate have reported pregnancy problems, according to the study.

The study adds to the weight of evidence that Roundup and glyphosate are likely endocrine disruptors and supports several other studies that have shown toxic effects of both glyphosate and Roundup (see fact sheet). Product formulations include added inert ingredients and adjuvant chemicals that make the product more toxic and help it to perform better (by causing it to stick, spread, reduce evaporation or some other desired function).

In its assessment of pesticides, the EPA neither evaluates nor requests data on the health and environmental effects of actual product formulations.

Click here for the review of this study by EHP.