Roundup untested in drinking water

May 2015
Photo Creative Commons
The biotech industry's 'dream' weedkiller (the one which is "safe-as-salt", sold for use on most GM crops, and has become a global best-seller) seems to be turning into a nightmare. This year has seen a flurry of scientific publications on the safety aspects of glyphosate and glyphosate-based formulations (commonly marketed as 'Roundup'). Following up concerns that glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor, Australian scientists carried out experiments on the herbicide's effects on progesterone production.

Progesterone is a steroid hormone important to fertility and pregnancy. Using cultured human placental cells (known to generate progesterone) as a model of key aspect of reproduction in women, the Australian team investigated the effects of glyphosate and Roundup. The Roundup formulations selected for examination are readily available in supermarkets for domestic use, and have been identified as amongst the least toxic.

They found that glyphosate on its own had no effect on progesterone production by the cells. Roundup, which contains detergents to assist therbicide into cells, was associated with a catastrophic, dose-dependent, collapse of progesterone. This turned out to be due to the wholesale death of the cells.

Roundup was around a hundred times more toxic than glyphosate, and in acid conditions killed the human cells even more efficiently. Add to this that cultured cells are known to be less sensitive than cells in vivo. As the authors point out, consumed Roundup will mix with stomach acids and so could be very toxic to the cells lining the upper gastro-intestinal tract.

Also, "it is possible that children, pregnant women, the elderly and those suffering chronic illnesses, may be more vulnerable to environmental toxic insults such as that caused by exposure to Roundup sprays than the general population.

'Safe' limits on glyphosate residues in Australian drinking water have been set with reference to the pure chemical. No check is made on whether Roundup additives survive the water-treatment processes nor on their health-effects. The authors conclude that there is an "urgent need to conduct in vivo studies to determine the acute and chronic toxicity of glyphosate in domestic Roundup formulations in order to ensure existing drinking water guidelines are safe".


Looks like your Roundup-infiltrated cells have a choice of death or cancer (see GLYPHOSATE IS A PROBABLE CARCINOGEN - May 2015).

Pass on the Australian scientist's message about in vivo testing of Roundup formulations on to UK regulators.


·         Fiona Young, et al., 2015, Endocrine disruption adn ctotoxicity of glyphosate and Roundup in human JAr cells in vitro, Integrative Pharmacology, Toxicology and Genotoxicology  1(1)

·         Roundup is endocrine disruptor in human cells at levels allowed in drinking water, GM Watch, 20.13.15

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