[1/10/17] Glyphosate—the controversial active ingredient in Monsanto’s top-selling weedkiller Roundupand other herbicides—can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in rats at very low, real-world doses, according to a peer-reviewed study published in Nature.
The groundbreaking research is the first to show a “causative link between an environmentally relevant level of Roundup consumption over the long-term and a serious disease,” stated lead author Dr. Michael Antoniou of King’s College London, who described the findings as “very worrying.”
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the accumulation of extra fat in liver cells not caused by alcohol. It’s a serious and common condition that affects up to 90 million people in the U.S.
For the study, the researchers used cutting-edge molecular profiling methods to examine the livers of female rats who were fed an extremely low dose of Roundup over a two-year period. The rats were administered an ultra-low dose of only 4 nanograms per kilogram of body weight per day, which is 75,000 times below EU and 437,500 below U.S. permitted levels—basically thousands of times below the amount allowed by regulators around the world.
As King’s research associate Dr. Robin Mesnage explained to the Daily Mail, “the concentration of glyphosate that was added to the drinking water of the rats corresponds to a concentration found in tap water for human consumption.”
“It is also lower than the contamination of some foodstuffs,” Mesnage added.
The team found evidence that consumption of low doses of glyphosate over time can cause cell damage, serious fatty liver disease and areas of dead tissue or necrosis in the livers, as the Daily Mail reported from the study.
The researchers concluded:
“The results of the study presented here imply that chronic consumption of extremely low levels of a GBH formulation (Roundup), at admissible glyphosate-equivalent concentrations, are associated with marked alterations of the liver proteome and metabolome. These changes in molecular profile overlap substantially with biomarkers of [non-alcoholic fatty liver disease] and its progression to [non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, a serious liver disease].”
“Our results also suggest that regulators should reconsider the safety evaluation of glyphosate-based herbicides,” Dr. Antoniou said.
According to the American Liver Association, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease may cause the liver to swell and cause cirrhosis over time and may even lead to liver cancer or liver failure. People who are overweight, obese, or have diabetes, high cholesterol, high triglycerides are at risk of developing the condition although rapid weight loss and poor eating habits also may lead to the disease.
“Regulators worldwide accept toxicity studies in rats as indicators of human health risks. Therefore, the results of this latest study may have serious consequences for human health,” the King’s researchers said.
Glyphosate is the most widely applied weedkiller worldwide, especially in the U.S. Glyphosate is used on Monsanto’s line of “Roundup Ready” crops such as soy, corn, canola, alfalfa and cotton that are genetically altered to withstand direct applications of the herbicide, as the product kills only the weeds.