|CC photo of crop spraying in Norfolk - via timparkinson on Flickr|
Scientists at the Indian Institute of Toxicology in Lucknow, have previously reported that glyphosate has tumour-promoting potential in a mouse skin model. Further investigation, using cultured human skin cells as a 'normal' model, have identified the underlying mechanism. It seems glyphosate interferes with calcium-ion dependent processes inside the cell.
Calcium plays a pivotal part of the regulation of many key cellular activities including cell development, proliferation, secretion, gene activation, and natural cell death.
While glyphosate as a pure chemical is known to bind to metal ions, any effects inside the cell, where calcium is bound to proteins and may be associated with membranes, are too complex to predict. However, the Indian team's experiments demonstrated that the herbicide does indeed disrupt calcium function within the cell.