Glyphosate-based Weedkillers May Harm Key Species: Study

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Last month, a study was published in the medical journal Microbiome, in which researchers noted that chronic exposure to Roundup and other glyphosate-based weedkillers may cause embryonic development failure and alteration of key metabolic functions in the keystone species of the food chain.

The study was conducted by researchers from the U.K. who examined the effect of glyphosate on the water flea, Daphnia. Daphnia is a member of the order Cladocera and is considered a keystone species for the aquatic food web. As the flea is the building block of the food chain, any impact on it can affect the rest of the surrounding ecological webs.

Daphnia is the preferred food of small vertebrates and invertebrates as well as a grazer of algae and bacteria; hence, it occupies a central position in the food web of aquatic ecosystems. The researchers discovered that this could result in DNA damage and other problems in the species, affecting their ability to deliver critical ecosystem services.

In November, an associated study was published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials in which researchers from the University of Turku in Finland determined that half of the core human gut microbiome are “potentially sensitive” to glyphosate. The study illustrated that 54 percent of the species in the core human gut microbiome might be impacted by the main ingredient of the weedkiller Roundup.

Glyphosate is classified as a probable carcinogen, and its presence in the weedkiller Roundup has raised concerns of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) and other cancers among its users.

Bayer, the manufacturer of the controversial weedkiller, Roundup, is facing approximately 125,000 filed and unfiled claims. The lawsuits are presided by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria under MDL No. 2741 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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