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Daily News Blog

21
Mar

Study Shows Glyphosate Linked to Shorter Pregnancies

(Beyond Pesticides, March 21, 2018) According to a new study published this month in Environment Health, women with high levels of glyphosate in their bodies are more likely to have shorter pregnancies. Shorter pregnancies can lead to children with reduced learning and brain development. This is the first study to suggest that exposures to glyphosate can influence the long-term well-being of children.

The study, Glyphosate exposure in pregnancy and shortened gestational length: a prospective Indiana birth cohort study, obtained both urine and drinking water samples from 71 women with pregnancies living in Central Indiana while they received routine prenatal care, and analysed the relationships of glyphosate levels in mother’s urine with fetal growth indicators and gestational length. The researchers found that more than 90 percent of pregnant women had detectable levels of glyphosate where higher glyphosate levels were significantly correlated with shortened gestational lengths, even though the drinking water samples had little to no detectable levels of glyphosate. Women living in rural areas were found to have higher glyphosate levels.

The authors note their study is significant because it is the first U.S. study designed specifically to measure prenatal glyphosate exposure in pregnant women to determine its association with adverse fetal developmental risk. Lead author, Shahid Parvez, Ph.D., an assistant professor and researcher at the Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health, said exposure from foods is the most likely culprit. Dr. Parvez said none of the women studied worked in agriculture. “Even though this study was in Central Indiana, if diet is the route by which everyone is exposed, this is not necessarily a regional issue but a national or global issue,” he said, adding that there was some evidence from a survey of the women that eating organic curbed their glyphosate levels. Dr. Parvez said they suspect that glyphosate may spur oxidative stress in pregnant women, which could lead to shorter pregnancies—this is what he and his team want to look into next. There are limitations to the study in that it has a very small sample size and the women were almost all white. Dr. Parvez said they plan on conducting a similar study on a larger scale with more diversity and from different regions.

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s popular Roundup, has been touted by Monsanto as “safe,” but science is showing it is anything but. In March 2015, IARC found that there was sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental organisms to classify glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2A). Industry has since challenged IARC’s finding, arguing that it is an outlier as an “overwhelming majority of government regulators and other experts” have found glyphosate is not carcinogenic and have “flatly rejected” IARC’s conclusion. Monsanto has been trying to undermine findings that show its flagship product, glyphosate, is anything other than “safe.” However, its attempts to unduly influence and undermine scientific research and government review of its product has been disclosed widely in the press. In December 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), declared that glyphosate is likely not carcinogenic, conflicting with IARC’s 2015 classification. Some charge that EPA’s assessment relied heavily on industry studies to arrive at its conclusion, and ignored its own guidelines for assessing cancer risks. Currently, EPA has opened for public comment its most recent health assessment for glyphosate. The comment period ends April 30, 2018.

More than 250 lawsuits are pending against Monsanto in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, brought by people who claim that Roundup exposure caused them or a family member to contract non-Hodgkin lymphoma — a cancer that originates in the lymphatic system, which comprises much of the body’s immune system, and can then spread throughout the body — and that Monsanto covered up the health risks associated with glyphosate. The first trial is set for June 18, 2018, in San Francisco County Superior Court.

Glyphosate is widely used in food production, especially on genetically engineered (GE) crops, and on lawns, gardens, parks, and children’s playing fields. It has been linked DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells, and some epidemiologic studies have found that exposure to glyphosate is significantly associated with an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In September 2015, a study published in Environmental Health News found that chronic, low-dose exposure to glyphosate leads to adverse effects on liver and kidney health. In January 2017, research was published showing that ultra-low doses of glyphosate formulations fed to rats are linked to an increased likelihood of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. A lead author of that study stated that the findings are “very worrying as they demonstrate for the first time a causative link between an environmentally relevant level of Roundup consumption over the long-term and a serious disease.”

The herbicide is the most widely used herbicide in the world and as a result is being detected in food and human bodies. Tests have detected glyphosate residues in German beer, at levels higher than allowed in drinking water. Glyphosate residues have been found in bread being sold in the UK. A pilot study conducted by the group Moms Across America in 2014 found that glyphosate may also bioaccumulate in the human body, as revealed by high levels of the chemical in the breast milk of mothers tested. Research from the University of California, San Diego finds that glyphosate residues in the human body increased significantly from the mid-1990s to present. Between 1993 and 1996 average glyphosate residues in urine was recorded to be 0.024 micrograms per liter. By time study participants were tested between 2014-2016, average urinary glyphosate levels rose to 0.314 micrograms per liter, an increase of over 1,200%.

As evidence of the hazardous effects of glyphosate mounts, Beyond Pesticides urges communities around the U.S. to advocate for the elimination of glyphosate and other toxic pesticide use, at least in public spaces. Consumers can have a real impact by talking to neighbors, farmers, and the legislators who make decisions that affect people’s health. As always, contact Beyond Pesticides at [email protected] or 1.202.543.5450 for assistance, or visit the Beyond Pesticides website. Meanwhile, as the regulatory wrestling continues, the best way to avoid glyphosate and other harmful pesticides is to support organic practices in agriculture and for lawns and landscapes in the community and to purchase organic food.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Environmental Health News

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