DNA Project/ Detoxify
DNA damage in humans can result in cancer, reproductive problems, infertility in men, birth defects in offspring, and decreased lifespan. The pesticide industry claims that glyphosate does not damage DNA. However, glyphosate and glyphosate herbicides have been found to damage DNA in animal studies, as well as in human cells tested in vitro (not in living humans). Genetic damage has been found in soybean workers exposed to agrochemicals including glyphosate herbicides, as well as in Ecuadorian people exposed only to glyphosate herbicides.
Under European law, pesticides that damage DNA (are "genotoxic") are not allowed to be marketed.
"Glyphosate Facts" website, which is run by pesticide companies, claims
that glyphosate does not damage DNA (is not genotoxic).2 But
these claims are based on old studies carried out by the pesticide
industry, submitted to regulators for regulatory authorization of
glyphosate. The studies are kept hidden from the public and independent
scientists on grounds of commercial confidentiality.
"Glyphosate Facts" claims that these tests' adherence to OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) test guidelines is a sign of "data integrity and reliability".
What "Glyphosate Facts"
fails to mention is that OECD test guidelines were put in place in the
1970s by regulators and industry in response to the discovery of
widespread fraud at laboratories commissioned by industry to test
chemicals and drugs for regulatory purposes. OECD test
guidelines only apply to industry tests performed for regulatory
purposes. While there is undoubted value in forcing industry to carry
out standardized tests, OECD guidelines are based on old, outdated,
insensitive methodologies. They are irrelevant to academic scientists,
who prefer to use the most sensitive and most up-to-date methodologies
for their research.
A major drawback to all industry studies on glyphosate is that they tested the isolated ingredient glyphosate, not the complete formulations that people and animals are exposed to (see "Roundup is more toxic than glyphosate"). Yet independent toxicological research shows that the formulations as sold and used are much more toxic than the isolated ingredient glyphosate. Therefore assurances of safety based on tests on glyphosate alone are worthless in any assessment of toxicity of the complete formulations.
In contrast to outdated and manipulated industry tests, independent studies show that glyphosate, and the formulated herbicides based on it, do damage DNA.
- Glyphosate herbicides altered cell cycle checkpoints in sea urchin embryos by interfering with the DNA repair machinery. Cell cycle dysfunction was seen from the first cell division in the sea urchin embryos. The failure of cell cycle checkpoints is known to lead to genomic instability and cancer in humans.
- Glyphosate and its main metabolite AMPA have been found to cause irreversible damage to DNA in human cells in vitro and in mice in vivo. Such damage to DNA may increase the risk of cancer and birth defects. AMPA damaged DNA in human cells in vitro at doses of 2.5-7.5mM and caused breaks in chromosomes at 1.8mM.
- An in vitro study showed that irradiation corresponding to a few minutes of sun exposure greatly amplified the DNA-damaging effects of glyphosate on mammalian cells. The glyphosate metabolite AMPA proved even more damaging, provoking cellular toxic effects from 0.5 ppb, a low environmentally relevant dose that can be found in European rivers and even in drinking water. The effects were even greater when glyphosate was mixed with other pesticides (the so-called "cocktail effect"), including atrazine. The authors concluded that "the Directive Standards for Pesticides in Drinking Water should be re-evaluated according to these underestimated factors of risk".
- Glyphosate and Roundup caused DNA damage in human mouth cells in vitro after a single 20-minute exposure at much lower doses than those used in agriculture. Roundup was much more toxic than glyphosate alone. The study showed that in principle, people who are exposed to Roundup through inhalation (as in South American soy-producing countries) could suffer DNA damage. With both glyphosate and Roundup, DNA damage occurred at concentrations below those required to cause cell damage, suggesting that the DNA damage was caused directly by these substances instead of being an indirect result of cell toxicity.
- Glyphosate and Roundup caused damage to DNA and chromosomes in the bone marrow of mice in vivo and in human cells in vitro. Roundup was only slightly more toxic than glyphosate.
- Roundup caused mutations in the DNA of fruit flies.
- Roundup increased the frequency of DNA adducts (cancer-causing chemicals that link to DNA), which can mark the onset of cancer, in the liver and kidneys of mice
- Genetic damage was found in soybean workers exposed to pesticides, glyphosate herbicides among them, in Brazil.
- Ecuadorian people exposed to aerial glyphosate herbicide spraying showed a higher degree of DNA damage in blood cells than a control population. The researchers ruled out tobacco, alcohol, non-prescription drugs and asbestos as causes. None of the individuals had used or been exposed to other herbicides or pesticides when the samples were taken. The study also found acute poisoning reactions to the glyphosate herbicide spraying, including intestinal pain and vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, heart palpitations, headaches, dizziness, numbness, insomnia, burning eyes, blurred vision, difficulty in breathing, and skin rash.
(Article changed on June 17, 2019 at 15:46)