Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Does Glyphosate Disturb the Human Gut Microbiome?

Health + Wellness
Does Glyphosate Disturb the Human Gut Microbiome?
A sign indicates that glyphosate has been used on a farmer's field. Jo Zimny / Flickr

More than half the bacteria in the human gut microbiome are sensitive to glyphosate, the mostly commonly used herbicide in the world, reported scientists this month in the Journal of Hazardous Materials.

Researchers from the University of Turku in Finland recently developed a novel bioinformatics tool to predict if beneficial bacteria in the human gut are affected by exposure to glyphosate.

They found that the herbicide could disturb the natural cycles of microbiome life, and potentially harm human health, through weakening the system and causing greater susceptibility to diseases.

"Glyphosate targets an enzyme ... [that] is crucial to synthesizing three essential amino acids," said Pere Puigbò, who co-developed the bioinformatics tool.

Glyphosate is regularly in the news, viewed as a potential threat to health and well-being because of its widespread use on crops including corn, soy and canola. It is also a household weed killer, particularly the Monsanto/Bayer-owned brand Roundup.

The herbicide is currently banned from many countries including Germany, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam, and is heavily restricted in others. Cities and states across the U.S. are starting to reduce use or pushing for a ban, due to mounting health concerns. Other cities, such as Los Angeles and Miami, have already banned use.

"We need experimental research to study the effects of glyphosate on microbial communities in variable environments," said researcher Marjo Helander in a statement about the findings.

"This groundbreaking study provides tools for further studies to determine the actual impact of glyphosate on human and animal gut microbiota and thus to their health."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst stand at the Orion spacecraft during a visit at the training unit of the Columbus space laboratory at the European Astronaut training centre of the European Space Agency ESA in Cologne, Germany on May 18, 2016. Ina Fassbender / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

By Monir Ghaedi

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep most of Europe on pause, the EU aims for a breakthrough in its space program. The continent is seeking more than just a self-sufficient space industry competitive with China and the U.S.; the industry must also fit into the European Green Deal.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A new species of bat has been identified in West Africa. MYOTIS NIMBAENSIS / BAT CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL

In 2018, a team of researchers went to West Africa's Nimba Mountains in search of one critically endangered species of bat. Along the way, they ended up discovering another.

Read More Show Less


Lakota spiritual leader Chief Arvol Looking Horse attends a demonstration against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 28, 2015. Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is planning to cancel the controversial Keystone XL pipeline on the first day of his administration, a document reported by CBC on Sunday suggests.

Read More Show Less
Seabirds often follow fishing vessels to find easy meals. Alexander Petrov / TASS via Getty Images

By Jim Palardy

As 2021 dawns, people, ecosystems, and wildlife worldwide are facing a panoply of environmental issues. In an effort to help experts and policymakers determine where they might focus research, a panel of 25 scientists and practitioners — including me — from around the globe held discussions in the fall to identify emerging issues that deserve increased attention.

Read More Show Less
A damaged home and flooding are seen in Creole, Louisiana, following Hurricane Laura's landfall on August 27, 2020. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Elliott Negin

What a difference an election makes. Thanks to the Biden-Harris victory in November, the next administration is poised to make a 180-degree turn to again address the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less