Roundup damage at the molecular level

October 2015

When Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini published his controversial life-long study on rats fed a GM maize and Roundup herbicide (active ingredient 'glyphosate'), he promised there was a lot more data to come [1].

Suspicions that the promised data might be even more damning than the observations of accelerated tumour-development in the first paper have been confirmed.

It seems that, while the glyphosate consumed by the rats during the experiment was found in most tissues, the levels in the liver and kidneys (the organs of detoxification) were ten- to a hundred-times higher than in other sites.

Electron microscopy and a detailed analysis of the changes in DNA expression in the liver- and kidney-cells of female rats given legally admissible concentrations of Roundup in their drinking water have provided structural and molecular support for the recorded tissue pathologies and biochemical readings. They also confirm the adverse liver-effects from glyphosate reported as far back as the 1980s.

Significant alterations in gene expression were consistent with disruption of the cellular energy production essential to the life processes, and with inflammatory responses. These, plus the observed physical scarring of cells, are incompatible with healthy function.

Further evidence of glyphosate-linked endocrine disruption was also presented. Female rats' organs were used for the analysis because the males suffered more acute liver and kidney problems only revealed after their premature death (by which time the tissues were unsuitable for the investigation). This discrepancy in male-female reactions is an indication of sex-hormone effects. Indeed a significantly high testosterone (male sex hormone) and low oestrogen (female sex hormone) imbalance in the test rats was demonstrated.

Disruption was found in gene expression involved in the cell signalling pathways (the chemical bases for cell communication) which regulate cell growth, proliferation and survival. aberrant modulation of this particular cell control system has been widely implicated in cancer. Given the furore which erupted when Séralini's observations of tumours in the rats fed Roundup was first published, this is a particularly important finding.

In the living system, cell-regulation signalling pathways, sex hormone effects and respiration are all dynamically interconnected.


These findings are, if anything, even more alarming, and much more difficult to refute, than Séralini's first paper, but the pro-GM lobby have remained strangely silent on the subject. Perhaps, the required knowledge of cell function at the molecular level needed to understand the full implications of the data made it inaccessible to the media and, it seems, to the loudest mouths on the GM-lovers platform. Or, maybe those with a vested interest in Roundup and Roundup Ready crops have been reduced to crossing their fingers and hoping the embarrassing evidence will go away. Don't let it.


[1]  GM MAIZE IS NOT SAFE TO EAT - October 2012


Robin Mesnage, et al., 2015, Transcriptome profile analysis reflects rat liver and kidney damage following chronic ultra-low dose Roundup exposure, Environmental Health

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