Washington State University researchers recently published a report in Scientific Reports outlining the health problems second and third-generation rats faced when each generation was exposed to glyphosate, the world’s most popular weed killer. This study was the first of its kind, and researchers hope that it highlights our society’s need to think about generational toxicology.
When exposed over generations, researchers saw the rat’s health decline with increased rates of prostate, kidney, and ovarian diseases as well as obesity and birth abnormalities. Lead researcher, Michael Skinner, along with a host of colleagues decided to study glyphosate, “due to it being one of the most commonly used compounds worldwide.”
The Process & Details
The researchers exposed the first generation of pregnant rats to the herbicide early in their pregnancy. They chose to do this study using half of the dose expected to be at the top of the safe range of exposure. As expected, none of the first generation or their parents showed an adverse reaction to the chemical.
As they repeated this process over the next two generations, health issues began to arise. According to the researchers, the second generation of rats saw a great increase in testis, ovary, and mammary gland diseases. In addition, these rats also saw increased rates of obesity and pregnancy failure during their life. Going into the third generation, the rates saw a 30% increase in prostate disease among males and a 40% increase – in kidney disease for females. These levels were three and four times higher than that of the rats.
Why is this Important?
Skinner and his fellow researchers were looking into something they call “generational toxicology.” According to them, this is something that is all over the world in fungicides, pesticides, jet fuel, and even DEET. What they claim is that epigenetic changes are turning genes on and off due to these external factors.
It’s not just these researchers either. Glyphosate has been the subject of many studies around the world in recent years. Another study this year found that glyphosate could increase the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 41%. On the other hand, a third study at the end of the last year found residents living close to the herbicide are more likely to have Parkinson’s disease and die at a younger age. Researchers around the world are urging for more testing and a better understanding of what we live around daily.