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The Impact of Glyphosate on Human Health

There is a lot of confusion about whether the commonly used herbicide glyphosate ("Roundup") is safe. In this review, Cliff Harvey PhD looks at the evidence from reviews of the literature on the health effects of glyphosate.

Key Findings:

Very high doses of glyphosate are demonstrably inflammatory and damaging to the kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract, and microbes (in animal studies

There is little strong evidence that current levels of glyphosate exposure increase the risk of cancer or other major disorders in humans

One review has indicated a significant increase in ADHD associated with increased glyphosate exposure

Glyphosate is a herbicide (“Roundup”) that has become the most commonly used agricultural chemical in the world. There has been a large amount of controversy around the use of this herbicide, especially its possible relation to cancer with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (part of the World Health Organisation of the United Nations) concluding that it is likely to be carcinogenic, while other reviews have disputed this finding, and further papers debating the likely or possible health risks and safety of the herbicide for other health outcomes.1

It is clear that the use of glyphosate is enormous and that the chemical can be found ubiquitously in the environment, in water, and in the foods we eat. Glyphosates ubiquitous use has led to it being found in many common products including cereals and grain products, human milk, tampons, medical gauze, honey (both organic and non-organic), and it has also been detected n human urine, demonstrating exposure.1, 2 There are also very important considerations not just to health, but the environmental impacts on ecosystems from the presence of glyphosate runoff and accumulation in soil and bodies of water.3, 4

What health effects have been demonstrated in animal research?

High doses administered to animal subjects can cause kidney damage, reduced growth rates, liver enlargement and inflammation, and gastrointestinal disorders,1 and is likely to be both genotoxic,5 and reduce sperm concentrations (based on mouse research).6 It is also likely that glyphosate through inhibition of the EPSPS enzyme, can destroy bacteria important to human health as part of the intestinal microbiome,1, 2 and this has provided a controversial hypothesis that glyphosate use may be linked to autism spectrum disorder through the inhibition of the microbiome and resultant growth in clostridia species in the gut.7

It is likely that glyphosate can destroy bacteria important to human health

Animal studies have shown that doses upwards of 100 mg/kg of body weight per day could cause a range of detrimental effects on the liver, bladder, thymus and might be associated with weight gain, colonic ulceration, stomach inflammation, cataracts, liver enlargement, hyperkeratosis, and kidney cell death.8 However, many of these adverse effects were observed at much higher dosages.

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