Quantcast
Health
The use of glyphosate has increased significantly since the introduction of genetically modified foods in the 1990s.

Researchers Link Glyphosate to Shorter Pregnancies

Researchers from Indiana University and University of California San Francisco have linked glyphosate exposure in pregnancy to shortened gestational length.

The new study, published in the journal Environmental Health, found that 93 percent of a study group of pregnant women in Indiana had detectable levels of the widely used and controversial herbicide in their urine. Those with higher levels delivered earlier compared to those with less or none.


The research was based on urine samples obtained from 71 pregnant women from nine counties in central Indiana, including a mix of rural, suburban and urban addresses, between 2015 and 2016. Typically, the length of human gestation is around 280 days, or 40 weeks. But the overall average gestational age of all 71 births in the study group was around 274 days, the researchers found. Two infants in the study were born premature, or less than 37 weeks of gestation.

Glyphosate was not correlated with other fetal growth indicators such as birth weight percentile and head circumference.

Shahid Parvez, the principal investigator of the study and an assistant professor at Indiana University, warned that babies born early can have health problems.

"There is growing evidence that even a slight reduction in gestational length can lead to lifelong adverse consequences," he said in a statement.

According to the study, the highest levels of glyphosate were found in women who lived in rural areas and in those who consumed more than 24 oz. of caffeinated beverages per day.

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup, is the world's most popular herbicide and likely the most contentious. Exposure to glyphosate has increased approximately 500 percent since 1994, when Monsanto introduced "Roundup Ready" crops that are genetically engineered to resist the weedkiller.

Use of glyphosate is heaviest in the Midwest due to corn and soybean production, as a press release for the new study noted.

The pervasiveness of glyphosate means it is regularly detected in the natural environment and in everyday foods, including cookies, crackers, popular cold cereals, chips and alcoholic beverages—and consequently–in human urine.

A number of experts have expressed concern over the public's increasing exposure to the chemical.

"One thing we cannot deny is that glyphosate exposure in pregnant women is real," Parvez said.

For the study, the researchers also collected drinking water samples from the participants' homes. They found that none of the drinking water samples had detectable glyphosate levels, meaning the women were unlikely to be exposed to the chemical from their drinking water.

"The good news is that the public drinking water supply may not be the primary source of glyphosate exposure, as we initially anticipated. None of the tested drinking water samples showed glyphosate residues. It is likely that glyphosate is eliminated in the water-treatment process," Parvez said.

"The bad news is that the dietary intake of genetically modified food items and caffeinated beverages is suspected to be the main source of glyphosate intake."

Parvez told Reuters that the association between caffeine intake and high glyphosate levels in urine was surprising.

"It makes sense to us since there are many different food products imported from southeast Asia and South America but we don't know what they contain," he said. "It indicates a need to think about these food products, such as coffee beans and other drinks that we import."

Monsanto dismissed the study and adamantly defended the safety of its product, telling Reuters, "Even at the highest reported levels of glyphosate exposure, the findings by Parvez et al do not indicate any adverse health outcomes, the gestation ranges reported by Parvez et al are well within the normal range of gestation lengths and the trace amounts of glyphosate reported in the urine samples are consistent with exposures that are well below the strict limits the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established to protect human health."

Scott Partridge, vice president of global strategy for Monsanto, added to Reuters, "When it comes to safety assessments, no other pesticide has been more extensively tested than glyphosate. In evaluations spanning four decades, the overwhelming conclusion of experts worldwide, including the EPA, has been that glyphosate can be used safely according to label instructions."

Parvez acknoweldged that the results of the study mandate further investigation. Besides the small number of participants, the average age of the women was 29 years and the majority were white.

"Although our study cohort was small and regional and had limited racial or ethnic diversity, it provides direct evidence of maternal glyphosate exposure and a significant correlation with shortened pregnancy," Parvez said.

"We are planning, contingent upon funding, to conduct a more comprehensive study in a geographically and racially diverse pool of pregnant women to determine if our findings are the same," he said.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Climate
Women fetching water in India. Pixabay

India Suffers 'Worst Water Crisis in Its History'

India is facing its "worst-ever" water crisis, according to a report from a government think tank issued last week.

Around 200,000 Indians die each year due to lack of water access, the report finds, and demand will be twice as much as supply by 2030.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
daryl_mitchell / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Urban Gardening 101: How to Deal With Contaminated Soil

By Brian Barth

Urban soils are particularly prone to contamination. Fifty years ago, your yard could have belonged to a farmer, who, perhaps not knowing any better, disposed of old bottles of anti-freeze or contaminated diesel in a hole out behind the tractor garage. Or perhaps the remains of a fallen down outbuilding, long ago coated in lead-based paint, was buried on your property buy a lazy contractor when your subdivision was built.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
High-tide flooding in Miami, FL, a state that could lose more than 10 percent of its residential properties to chronic flooding by 2100. B137 / CC BY-SA 4.0

Sea Level Rise Could Put 2.4 MIllion U.S. Coastal Homes at Risk

More than 300,000 U.S. coastal homes could be uninhabitable due to sea level rise by 2045 if no meaningful action is taken to combat climate change, a Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) study published Monday found.

The study, Underwater: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods and the Implications for U.S. Coastal Real Estate, set out to calculate how many coastal properties in the lower 48 states would suffer from "chronic inundation," non-storm flooding that occurs 26 times a year or more, under different climate change scenarios.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate

NASA Climate Scientist Warned Us About Warming 30 Years Ago

Climate science marks a troubling anniversary this week: in June of 1988, NASA scientist James Hansen told Congress that global warming had already begun to affect the world and would only get worse.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Pixabay

4 Ways You Can Make a Difference on Climate

By Jaime Nack

"Where do I start?"

Whatever the forum, whatever the audience, it's always the first question I hear when I talk to people about sustainability and personal impact.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy
Minnesota Senate Building solar array ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 10. MN Administration / CC BY 2.0

U.S. Sees Steady Solar Growth Despite Trump, But China Slashes Subsidies

By Andy Rowell

Donald Trump can't stop the sun from shining. Despite the climate denier's pro-fossil fuel agenda, and despite his tariffs on imported solar panels, the U.S. still installed more solar than any other source of energy in the first quarter of the year.

The amount of solar power installed in the U.S. climbed 13 percent in the first quarter, according to the trade body, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Politics
frankieleon / CC BY 2.0

How a Minor Change to EPA Rules Could Slash Environmental Protection

By Joseph Aldy

Since the Reagan administration, federal agencies have been required to produce cost-benefit analyses of their major regulations. These assessments are designed to ensure that regulators are pursuing actions that make society better off.

In my experience working on the White House economic team in the Clinton and Obama administrations, I found cost-benefit analysis provides a solid foundation for understanding the impacts of regulatory proposals. It also generates thoughtful discussion of ways to design rules to maximize net benefits to the public.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
E. Kahl / National Park Service

America’s Most Obscure Desert Is in Alaska

By Michael Engelhard

Time slipping, a tabula rasa. Footprints erased, slopes advanced, ripples unsculpted. A whole world recast by whims of weather. Besides snowfields and foreshores, few landscapes appear so clean-cut and subtle. Here, emptiness is the main attraction.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!