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New Study Shows Dangers of Childhood Exposure To Weed Killer

Childhood obesity and metabolic syndrome have increased at an alarming rate in the United States, specifically among populations of color. A new study released by UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health found that children exposed to weed killers containing glyphosate and AMPA were at a higher risk of liver inflammation and metabolic disorders when the children entered adulthood. AMPA is a degradation product of glyphosate and amino-polyphosphonates.  The research study also stated that exposure to glyphosate and AMPA could cause liver cancer, liver disease, heart disease, diabetes, and other long-term health complications.

Brenda Eskenazi, a director at the Center for Environmental Research and Community Health (CERCH), part of UC Berkeley, led the researchers who conducted the study. Published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a journal of the National Institute of Health Sciences, the study followed 480 mother-child duos in the Salinas Valley. The Salinas Valley is an agricultural region in California where the use of Roundup is rampant. It is used on genetically modified crops like corn, soybeans, wheat, and produce grown in the Salinas Valley.  

Pregnant woman wearing floral white dress affectionately holding her belly outside with newly planted rice field and cloudy sky in background.

The research focused on the use of glyphosate near the duo’s homes while the mother was pregnant and, in the children, up to the age of 5 years. Researchers also measured the levels of glyphosate and AMPA in urine. Urine was collected from mothers during pregnancy and children at the ages of 5,14, and 18. The researchers then followed up with liver and metabolic health in those children when they reached 18 years old. 

Findings from the study identified that higher levels of glyphosate residue and AMPA were associated with a higher risk of liver inflammation and metabolic disorders in young adulthood.  The study also reported that diet was a source of exposure. Children who ate more cereal, fruits, vegetables, and bread had high levels of glyphosate residue. This is the first time researchers have examined the potential connection between early life exposure to glyphosate and metabolic and liver disease.

Glyphosate is an herbicide used to control weeds and grasses and is an active ingredient in products like Roundup. Commonly used in agriculture, glyphosate is also utilized in public spaces like parks, playgrounds, and golf courses to prevent the growth of weeds and unwanted plants. The potential impact of glyphosate on human health is controversial and continues to be widely debated.

This new report shows exposure to glyphosate through products like Roundup can increase metabolic disease in young children. Additionally, Roundup has been linked to an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and more than 100,000 Roundup lawsuits have been filed. Litigation alleging Roundup causes cancer has been ongoing since 2020. Bayer, the pharmaceutical giant, has spent billions of dollars battling cases brought against Roundup, which they acquired with their purchase of Monsanto, an agricultural company in 2018.  

To date, Bayer has settled tens of thousands of lawsuits with payouts totaling around $10 billion. As a result of the new UC Berkeley study and other findings, it is estimated that Roundup lawsuits against Bayer could increase on behalf of people affected by glyphosate.