Is Roundup Weedkiller A Brain-Damaging Neurotoxin?

brain_damage_roundup

By Sayer Ji

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

A study reveals a hitherto unknown mechanism behind how the world’s most popular GMO herbicide harms the brain.

Remarkably, despite Roundup ® herbicide’s widespread approval around the world, the most basic mechanisms through which it exerts toxicity towards non-target animal species (including humans) have yet to be adequately characterized.

Concerned about Brazil’s status as the largest global consumer of pesticides since 2008, researchers sought to elucidate toxicologic effects of these agrochemicals in humans.

Their study, published in the journal Toxicology, provides a proposed mechanism for the adverse neurological effects of Roundup ® (a glyphosate-based herbicide). It is has been observed that agrochemical exposure can lead to, or accelerate, neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. However, lacking a mechanism of action, such a link can more easily be written off as coincidental; which is largely the position of the medical establishment, agricultural industry, and its would-be regulators. The authors point out that, “neurodegenerative conditions are frequently associated with glutamatergic excitotoxicity and oxidative stress,” which is why they decided to investigate the subject further.

Titled, “Mechanisms underlying the neurotoxicity induced by glyphosate-based herbicide in immature rat hippocampus: Involvement of glutamate excitotoxicity,”[i] the paper tested the neurotoxicity of Roundup ® in the hippocampus of immature rats following acute exposure (30 minutes) and chronic (pregnancy and lactation) exposure.

The results found that acute exposure to Roundup ® induces calcium influx into neurons (primarily, by activating NMDA receptors and voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels), leading to oxidative stress and neural cell death. They also found that the herbicide affected the enzymes ERK and CaMKII, the later of which is an enzyme whose dysregulation has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.[ii] Additionally, acute exposure was observed to have the following three effects:

  1. Increase the amino acid glutamate into the junctions through which neurons communicate (synaptic cleft), which, when released in excess levels, can exert excitotoxic/neurotixc effects in neurons.
  2. Decrease the neuroprotective antioxidant glutathione.
  3. Increase ‘brain rancidity,’ i.e. lipoperoxidation, characterized by excitotoxicity (over-stimulation of the neurons) and oxidative damage.

The summarization of their results, looking at the effects of both acute and chronic exposure, were reported as follows:

“Taken together, these results demonstrated that Roundup ® might lead to excessive extracellular glutamate levels and consequently to glutamate excitotoxicity and oxidative stress in rat hippocampus.”

Roundup-induced glutamate excitotoxicity appears to share similar effects to monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame-linked excitotoxicity, and indicating that anyone either prone to, or suffering from, a brain or neurological condition involving increased oxidative stress and/or neuronal excitotoxicity (pathological or excessive nerve cell stimulation) should be even more wary to reduce exposure to this unfortunately ubiquitous environmental and food contaminant.

The authors also pointed out that their study found maternal exposure to Roundup ® resulted in the offspring being exposed to the herbicide because it crosses the placental barrier during gestation and/or it is passed to them through the breast milk. They caution:

“Exposure to environmental toxicants during pregnancy and suckling periods has the potential to affect embryo and fetal development.”

This is not the first time that concerns have been raised about Roundup’s unique contraceptive and birth defect causing properties.

For additional information on the adverse effects of Roundup herbicide and related glyphosate formulations, visit our database sections on the topic, which references peer-reviewed and published research from the National Library of Medicine on the chemical.

Also, dig deeper into the non-safety of GMO farming, food and environmental and health consequences, by visiting our GMO research center.

Updated October 2014

Article References

[i] Daiane Cattani, Vera Lúcia de Liz Oliveira Cavalli, Carla Elise Heinz Rieg, Juliana Tonietto Domingues, Tharine Dal-Cim, Carla Inàªs Tasca, Fà¡tima Regina Mena Barreto Silva, Ariane Zamoner. MECHANISMS UNDERLYING THE NEUROTOXICITY INDUCED BY GLYPHOSATE-BASED HERBICIDE IN IMMATURE RAT HIPPOCAMPUS: INVOLVEMENT OF GLUTAMATE EXCITOTOXICITY. Toxicology. 2014 Mar 14. Epub 2014 Mar 14. PMID: 24636977

[ii] Yamauchi, Takashi (August 2005). “Neuronal Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II—discovery, progress in a quarter of a century, and perspective: implication for learning and memory”. Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin 28 (8): 1342–54. doi:10.1248/bpb.28.1342. PMID 16079472.

Further articles by Sayer Ji:

About the author:

Sayer-Ji

Sayer Ji is an author, educator, Steering Committee Member of the Global GMO Free Coalition (GGFC), advisory board member of the National Health Federation, and the founder of GreenMedInfo.com – an open access, evidence-based resource supporting natural and integrative modalities. His writings have been published and referenced widely in print and online, including Truthout, Mercola.com, The Journal of Gluten Sensitivity, New York Times and The Well Being Journal.

In 1995 Sayer received a BA degree in Philosophy from Rutgers University, where he studied under the American philosopher Dr. Bruce W. Wilshire, with a focus on the philosophy of science. In 1996, following residency at the Zen Mountain Monastery in upstate New York, he embarked on a 5 year journey of service as a counsellor-teacher and wilderness therapy specialist for various organizations that serve underprivileged and/or adjudicated populations. Since 2003, Sayer has served as a patient advocate and an educator and consultant for the natural health and wellness field.

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  • Mike Hallett

    We all tend to concentrate on, and vilify, Monsantos’ Roundup product, and rightly so, but having looked at the list of “ingredients” on a drum of Syngenta’s “Touchdown” weedkiller being used by a farmer friend of mine, I note that glysophates form a high percentage of that too.
    Needless to say, my friend regards my attitude to weed killers containing glysophate as mildly eccentric and silly, despite the fact that he has suffered from a nasty skin condition, low blood pressure and various other ailments all his adult life, as did his late father. I feel it unlikely that the farming fraternity will ever take on board the true nature of the products they so casually use and abuse.

  • deene ann

    What do you suggest to use to kill pest’s. Farmers would have no crops without it. There is always more information available about the reality of this world and managing large farm land..anyone could do this on a tiny scale …organic’s or do they..just wondering ..I suppose you have all the answers ..so let me know …I do not like Monsanto’s control etc…but what do you suggest…for large land owner’s to survive? Can you survive your lifestyle without all the things we are told not to do. Break down what you use and let’s see how moral and ethical you can really be. …or maybe you are like Michelle Obama …preach it , teach it..do you live it and Mr. Hallett how do you know your friend would not have those ailment’s since we know any illness can also be induced by grief, stress, period.