|Frog on lily pad. Photo by Macomorphosis on Flickr|
Environmental pollutants have exacted a very heavy toll on amphibians (frogs, toads etc.) around the globe.
A particular offender has been identified as glyphosate, a weed-killer now widely and repeatedly sprayed on crops genetically transformed to withstand it.
Frogs are particularly vulnerable to chemicals because of their life-cycle and physiology. Tadpoles and spawn are unprotected and live immersed in pooled water along with whatever contaminants have collected there. Adult frogs have skin which serves as a 'lung', and doesn't have the tough, impermeable qualities of, for example, mammalian skin.
A recent study by Argentinean scientists on the effects of glyphosate on two species of frog yielded some ominous results.
Blood cells of frogs exposed to the weed-killer were seen to have chromosome fragments lying outside the nucleus. This suggested the herbicide had disrupted the normal process of cell division during which the chromosomes duplicate and then migrate into the two daughter cells. The abnormality was measurable in the frogs after only 5 days of exposure to glyphosate.
Chromosome damage has been observed in Argentinean villagers living near glyphosate-sprayed crops. This suggests that whatever glyphosate does to disrupt frogs' cell nuclei may also be happening in humans.
Early development of the human and frog embryo is sufficiently similar for frog spawn to be used by scientists as a model to study humans.
If the human mother is exposed to toxins in her food, water and air, these can circulate in her blood stream and may reach her baby in the womb: in this case, the infant will be no more protected than the frog eggs or tadpoles in their pool. Increasing evidence is pointing to glyphosate as a direct cause of foetal deformity, and, even more so, glyphosate formulated into Roundup herbicides which have ingredients added to make the glyphosate more potent. The possibility of massive chromosome disruption in the human cell nucleus due to the same mechanism as observed in frogs can't be considered unlikely.
Don't let evidence like this be dismissed as irrelevant because it involves frogs: the implications for humans are inescapable.
- Beatriz Bosch, et al., 2011, Micronucleus test in post metamorphic Odontophrynus cordobae and Rhinella arenarum (Aphibia: Anura) for environmental monitoring, Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences 3(6)