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Daily News Blog

30
Aug

New Evidence Shows Roundup Damages the Nervous System

(Beyond Pesticides, August 30, 2022) Minuscule amounts of the weed killer Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate can result in damage to the nervous system, finds research led by scientists at Florida Atlantic University, published in Scientific Reports. As hundreds of millions of pounds of glyphosate continue to be sprayed on hundreds of millions of acres of land throughout the United States each year, recent data indicate that four out of five U.S. children and adults contain detectable levels of glyphosate in their bodies. The pesticide industry and its paid supporters tell Americans that although contamination is widespread, the levels found in humans are not cause for concern. This latest research significantly undermines that specious argument, finding impacts on critical nervous system processes at levels 300 times less than the the lowest suggested amount on the Roundup label.

“It is concerning how little we understand about the impact of glyphosate on the nervous system,” said Akshay S. Naraine, MSc., coauthor and a PhD student at Florida Atlantic University. “More evidence is mounting for how prevalent exposure to glyphosate is, so this work hopefully pushes other researchers to expand on these findings and solidify where our concerns should be.” 

To investigate the nervous system effects of glyphosate, researchers employed a soil-dwelling nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, as a model test organism. C. elegans uses a neurotransmitter called Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) in coordination with its normal movement (e.g., the movement of a squirming worm). Any disruption of this normal movement results in convulsive activity. These properties make C. elegans an ideal model organism for studying seizures and epilepsy in humans. In addition to locomotion, human GABA receptors control sleep and are involved in managing mood.

Researchers exposed C. elegans to the active ingredient glyphosate, as well as other formulated glyphosate-based Roundup products, including the Roundup product sold in the U.S. and those before and after the United Kingdom banned the use of polyethoxylated tallowamine (POEAs), a known inert ingredient in Roundup shown to kill human cellsC. elegans was exposed to electroshock therapy to induce convulsions. Under normal conditions, the nematodes reversed within an average of 34.1 seconds. After exposure to glyphosate, this increased by over 20 seconds, with the U.S. Roundup formulation increasing average convulsion duration to 65 seconds.

While some exposed nematodes take longer to recover, others never recover. In the saline solution this represented less than 5% of worms. For glyphosate alone, this number jumped to 12.9% and, for the Roundup formulations, between 19 to 33% did not recover, with the U.S. formulation representing the highest end of that range.

“The concentration listed for best results on the Roundup® Super Concentrate label is 0.98 percent glyphosate, which is about 5 tablespoons of Roundup® in 1 gallon of water,” co-author Akshay Naraine noted. “A significant finding from our study reveals that just 0.002 percent glyphosate, a difference of about 300 times less herbicide than the lowest concentration recommended for consumer use, had concerning effects on the nervous system.”

Using an anti-epileptic drug called sodium valproate, scientists were able to stop and reverse convulsing nematodes, reducing their recovery time to 20 seconds.

“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 study co-author Ken Dawson-Scully, PhD. “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,” he said.

Despite decades of use, researchers are still uncovering shocking health information about a product that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is safe when used as directed. “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 Dr. Dawson-Scully. “Our study indicates that there is significant disruption in locomotion and should prompt further vertebrate studies.”

A recent study published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation shows that glyphosate has the ability to cross the blood brain barrier, increasing risk of neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s. Research published in Neuroscience Letters links glyphosate exposure to the development of Parkinson’s disease. These effects, separate from the well-documented  connection to cancer, specifically non-Hodgkin lymphoma, expose the grave insufficiency of U.S. pesticide regulatory process. Not only does EPA continue to allow glyphosate, it is also allowing the most toxic version of formulated Roundup to continue to be sold to consumers. Bayer recently committed to removing current formulations of consumer-use glyphosate from store shelves by 2023, but this was not done as a result of regulatory pressure from EPA, but legal pressure from the scores of lawsuits that are reducing the company’s stock price and executive bonuses.  

EPA continues to refuse to get with the science on glyphosate, as evidenced by the need for a federal judge to void EPA’s interim decision on glyphosate for its failure to adequately consider cancer effects and impacts on endangered species. Balancing the corporate capture of EPA requires concerned people to raise their voice to EPA and call out its dangerous decisions. Join us in that effort by telling EPA to ban glyphosate, and Congress to ensure EPA performs its job as required by law.

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

Source:  Florida Atlantic University, Scientific Reports

Image Source: Florida Atlantic University

 

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