Glyphosate-exposed shows a change in intestinal flora, study

The Ramazzini Institute 13-week pilot study on glyphosate and Roundup administered at human-equivalent dose to Sprague Dawley rats: effects on the microbiome

A study published on May 2018 by an international consortium of researchers, shows a change in intestinal flora in exposed animals, compared to control group. Image credit telegraph.

2019 Study Abstract

Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) are broad-spectrum herbicides that act on the shikimate pathway in bacteria, fungi, and plants. The possible effects of GBHs on human health are the subject of an intense public debate for both its potential carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic effects, including its effects on microbiome. The present pilot study examines whether exposure to GBHs at doses of glyphosate considered to be “safe” (the US Acceptable Daily Intake – ADI – of 1.75 mg/kg bw/day), starting from in utero, may modify the composition of gut microbiome in Sprague Dawley (SD) rats.

Glyphosate alone and Roundup, a commercial brand of GBHs, were administered in drinking water at doses comparable to the US glyphosate ADI (1.75 mg/kg bw/day) to F0 dams starting from the gestational day (GD) 6 up to postnatal day (PND) 125. Animal feces were collected at multiple time points from both F0 dams and F1 pups. The gut microbiota of 433 fecal samples were profiled at V3-V4 region of 16S ribosomal RNA gene and further taxonomically assigned and assessed for diversity analysis. We tested the effect of exposure on overall microbiome diversity using PERMANOVA and on individual taxa by LEfSe analysis.

Microbiome profiling revealed that low-dose exposure to Roundup and glyphosate resulted in significant and distinctive changes in overall bacterial composition in F1 pups only. Specifically, at PND31, corresponding to pre-pubertal age in humans, relative abundance for Bacteriodetes (Prevotella) was increased while the Firmicutes (Lactobacillus) was reduced in both Roundup and glyphosate exposed F1 pups compared to controls.

This study provides initial evidence that exposures to commonly used GBHs, at doses considered safe, are capable of modifying the gut microbiota in early development, particularly before the onset of puberty. These findings warrant future studies on potential health effects of GBHs in early development such as childhood.

Glyphosate suspected to be an endocrine disruptor

The Ramazzini Institute 13-week pilot study glyphosate-based herbicides administered at human-equivalent dose to Sprague Dawley rats: effects on development and endocrine system

A new study, published on March 12 2019 by an international consortium of researchers, adds a new controversy about this product already suspected of being genotoxic or carcinogenic. Image credit

2019 Study Abstract

Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) are broad-spectrum herbicides that act on the shikimate pathway in bacteria, fungi, and plants. The possible effects of GBHs on human health are the subject of an intense public debate for both its potential carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic effects, including potential effects on the endocrine system The present pilot study examine whether exposure to GBHs at the dose of glyphosate considered to be “safe” (the US Acceptable Daily Intake – ADI – of 1.75 mg/kg bw/day), starting from in utero life, affect the development and endocrine system across different life stages in Sprague Dawley (SD) rats.

Glyphosate alone and Roundup Bioflow, a commercial brand of GBHs, were administered in drinking water at 1.75 mg/kg bw/day to F0 dams starting from the gestational day (GD) 6 (in utero) up to postnatal day (PND) 120. After weaning, offspring were randomly distributed in two cohorts: 8 M + 8F/group animals belonging to the 6-week cohort were sacrificed after puberty at PND 73 ± 2; 10 M + 10F/group animals belonging to the 13-week cohort were sacrificed at adulthood at PND 125 ± 2. Effects of glyphosate or Roundup exposure were assessed on developmental landmarks and sexual characteristics of pups.

In pups, anogenital distance (AGD) at PND 4 was statistically significantly increased both in Roundup-treated males and females and in glyphosate-treated males. Age at first estrous (FE) was significantly delayed in the Roundup-exposed group and serum testosterone concentration significantly increased in Roundup-treated female offspring from the 13-week cohort compared to control animals. A statistically significant increase in plasma TSH concentration was observed in glyphosate-treated males compared with control animals as well as a statistically significant decrease in DHT and increase in BDNF in Roundup-treated males. Hormonal status imbalances were more pronounced in Roundup-treated rats after prolonged exposure.

The present pilot study demonstrate that GBHs exposure, from prenatal period to adulthood, induced endocrine effects and altered reproductive developmental parameters in male and female SD rats. In particular, it was associated with androgen-like effects, including a statistically significant increase of AGDs in both males and females, delay of FE and increased testosterone in female.

55 unique chemical compounds used for fracking are known as probable or possible human carcinogens

Unconventional oil and gas development and risk of childhood leukemia: Assessing the evidence

2017 Study Highlights

  • Concerns exist about carcinogenic effects of unconventional oil & gas development.
  • We evaluated the carcinogenicity of 1177 water pollutants and 143 air pollutants.
  • These chemicals included 55 known, probable, or possible human carcinogens.
  • Specifically, 20 compounds had evidence of leukemia/lymphoma risk.
  • Research on exposures to unconventional oil & gas development and cancer is needed.


The widespread distribution of unconventional oil and gas (UO&G) wells and other facilities in the United States potentially exposes millions of people to air and water pollutants, including known or suspected carcinogens. Childhood leukemia is a particular concern because of the disease severity, vulnerable population, and short disease latency. A comprehensive review of carcinogens and leukemogens associated with UO&G development is not available and could inform future exposure monitoring studies and human health assessments.

The objective of this analysis was to assess the evidence of carcinogenicity of water contaminants and air pollutants related to UO&G development.

We obtained a list of 1177 chemicals in hydraulic fracturing fluids and wastewater from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and constructed a list of 143 UO&G-related air pollutants through a review of scientific papers published through 2015 using PubMed and ProQuest databases.

We assessed carcinogenicity and evidence of increased risk for leukemia/lymphoma of these chemicals using International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) monographs.

The majority of compounds (> 80%) were not evaluated by IARC and therefore could not be reviewed. Of the 111 potential water contaminants and 29 potential air pollutants evaluated by IARC (119 unique compounds), 49 water and 20 air pollutants were known, probable, or possible human carcinogens (55 unique compounds). A total of 17 water and 11 air pollutants (20 unique compounds) had evidence of increased risk for leukemia/lymphoma, including benzene, 1,3-butadiene, cadmium, diesel exhaust, and several polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Though information on the carcinogenicity of compounds associated with UO&G development was limited, our assessment identified 20 known or suspected carcinogens that could be measured in future studies to advance exposure and risk assessments of cancer-causing agents.

Our findings support the need for investigation into the relationship between UO&G development and risk of cancer in general and childhood leukemia in particular.

Evidence that Pesticide Active Substances are Transported Through Air

New study results prove a significant transport of pesticides over distances of many kilometres up to remote side valleys

Gone with the wind

Measurement of pesticides in the air in Vinschgau in 2018


If pesticides are used in agriculture, they never end up in their target location one hundred percent. A part remains in the ground, reaches waters or is carried away through the air by wind and thermals. In orchards, characteristic for the landscape of the Vinschgau Valley in Italy‘s German speaking province South Tyrol, this transport of particles through the air is a particularly serious problem as the spraying isn’t only done from top to bottom, but also sideways into the trees.

The aim of the study was to measure this effect to

  • provide evidence that pesticide active substances are transported through air
  • trace the spatial distribution of the various active substances
  • trace the temporal distribution of the various active substances during one growing season.


Two passive collectors (TE-200-PAS) produced by the company Tisch Environment were set up at each of the four locations with very different exposure scenarios and fitted with matching disks of polyurethane foam. The material is characterised by a large internal surface on which volatilised organic pollutants can adsorb.

This method was developed in the Canadian Ministry of Environment and has been used worldwide for many years, for example in the Global Atmospheric Passive Sampling Network. The use of the standardised collection medium enables a comparison between the pollution of the locations with an active substance when compared to each other and over a course of time.

The disks were purified in a laboratory before use to prevent pollutants from distorting the results. They were replaced every three weeks and sent to a laboratory for analysis in cooling boxes by express delivery. There they were extracted with methanol and the eluate was analysed for a total of 29 pesticide active substances that would probably be used in the region.


The four locations were selected in such a way that different levels of air pollution with pesticides could be expected due to different exposure scenarios. The specific locations were as follows:

  1. A garden within the closed village of Mals/Malles Venosta. The location is relatively well protected because the property is surrounded by a hedge and there are further buildings around the property. The location was selected to determine whether spray drift is detectable in built-up areas and at the edge of the fruit production core area.
  2. The second location was chosen as centrally as possible in an orchard in the central Vinschgau. The orchard is cultivated according to biological criteria, but is located in the immediate vicinity of conventional orchards.
  3. A third location was chosen remote from inhabited or cultivated areas above the valley floor in a side valley. The selected site is a slope near a stream course at the road from the village of Burgeis to Schlinig.
  4. Finally, a location was chosen where a lot of spray drift was to be expected without pesticides being used on the site itself. For this purpose, the two collectors were set up on a further organic farm in the central Vinschgau in such a way that air from the surroundings could very well flow into them.


Further results are as follows:

  • In the first measurement period from 23rd February to 16th March none of the 29 active substances was detected at any of the four locations.
  • In the following eight measurement periods a total of 20 active substances was detected and up to 14 different substances were found in one sample at the same time.
  • The more distant the site is from the conventional orchards, the lower the amount and number of active substances detected. The highest pollution could be found at site D, followed by B, A and C.
  • Six active substances were detected at all four locations: fluazinam, captan, phosmet, chlorpyrifos-methyl, dithianon und imidacloprid. This indicates an intensive use and a significant potential of transport through air.
  • Six further active substances are found at the three locations D, B and A: dodin, penconazole, cyprodinil, difenoconazole, thiacloprid and etofenprox. So they are even detectable in the air in the village of Mals in a fairly well protected environment.

Many of the pesticides that have been detected in the samples represent a significant threat to humans and the environment. Thus, for example

  • captan is labeled with H351 (“suspected of causing cancer”) in the hazard classification of the EU Pesticides Database.
  • The insecticide thiacloprid, besides being suspected of causing cancer, is classified as “May damage fertility” and “May damage the unborn child” (H360FD) and is closely monitored by the EU Commission because it interferes with the human hormone system.
  • imidacloprid is extremely toxic to bees and other insects. The median lethal dose for individual honeybees was stated to be 3.8 ng in the authorisation procedure.


Overall, the results prove a significant transport of pesticides over distances of many kilometres up to remote side valleys.

The results provide a clear indication of the difficult conditions for organic farms in the vicinity of intensive, conventional apple orchards.

In addition, the results point out a risk aspect that has been underestimated up to now: Compared to individual active substances, the overall pollution with pesticides causes a significantly higher exposure that continues to exist over the course of the season and thus a correspondingly higher risk potential.



Theo Colborn: a pioneer in identifying the problems caused by endocrine disrupting chemicals

On International Women’s Day, ChemTrust wanted to highlight the work of one woman in particular who had a significant impact on the field of endocrine disrupting chemicals, Dr Theo Colborn (1927-2014)

A trained pharmacist, Theo Colborn had an interest in wildlife from an early age. After completing her Master’s degree in science in 1981, she was awarded a PhD in Zoology in 1985 at the age of 58. Colborn undertook research on contaminants in the Great Lakes on the Canada-US border, and it was this research that demonstrated how endocrine disrupting chemicals were entering the environment and altering the development of wildlife. She co-authored the book ‘Our Stolen Future’, and in 2003 founded The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) in the US, a non-profit organisation which aims to reduce the production and use of hormone disrupting chemicals.

ChemTrust sat down with co-founder of CHEM Trust, Elizabeth Salter Green, to talk about the impact that Theo had on the field. Elizabeth previously worked as Director of the WWF-UK Toxics Programme, and has also worked for WWF’s European Policy Office, and for WWF International. Prior to WWF she worked for several years as a marine biologist, and co-authored the book “The Toxic Consumer”.

When did you first hear about Theo’s work?

I first met her when she came to the UK for the launch of her book, ‘Our Stolen Future’ in 1996. I was lucky enough to work with her on European policy on endocrine disrupting chemicals. But I had heard of her before that, as I was working for WWF-UK in the marine programme, and she was working for WWF’s US office.

What contribution did Theo make to the field of endocrine-disrupting chemicals?

Theo Colborn figured out that chemicals could disrupt our development. She was working in the Great Lakes on the Canada-US border in the 80s and could see that the populations of top predators were decreasing. She worked out – of course with the help of colleagues – that once these persistent chemicals were in the mother’s bloodstream they could be passed across to the child, be it an egg or a foetus developing in-utero. She could see that these chemicals had the ability to look like hormones and that they were disrupting the offspring’s development before they were even born. They were causing fertility problems in mammals, raptors’ shells to be too thin, and that was why the populations of top predators were decreasing. In 1991, she brought together 21 scientists from across the world to discuss hormone disrupting chemicals in the environment.

 Were there others working on similar research at the same time?

There were other people looking at chemicals and their impacts on wildlife and humans, but they were not able to work out the mechanism of the chemicals as hormone disruptors. They didn’t use the term endocrine disruptor until Theo had, and then applied the term to their own work. She absolutely led the way.

 What was the impact of her work on future research into endocrine disruptors?

She, with that group of scientists, coined the term ‘endocrine disruptor’, and it was used in all the scientific literature. In 1996, she wrote ‘Our Stolen Future’, which explained how these chemicals could be bad for not only the wildlife that she had studied, but for humans too. I remember her coming to the UK for the book launch, and she and WWF got such bad press for scaremongering. But, by the early 2000s the EU was spending €200 million on endocrine disrupting chemicals research programmes. We had gone from being vilified in 1996, to be the cause of hundreds of millions of euros being spent on research because they knew that Theo’s work was right.

 Was there any impact on policy or chemical regulation?

When Theo came to the UK in 1996, she said these endocrine disrupting chemicals are a problem. So, WWF wrote to the European Commission and told them that they are overlooking this whole group of harmful chemicals in their chemicals legislation, but we were told that nothing was going to be done. So, with Theo’s help, we got an Own Initiative report written in the European Parliament. An Own Initiative report is used if an issue is felt to be really important, but you can’t get leverage with the Commission. In this case, we were fortunate that Kirsten Jensen from the Environment Committee took the leadership in drafting  an Own Initiative report on endocrine disrupting chemicals report in 1998.  Following this report, the Commission had to do something, and that was then when they started to produce a strategy on endocrine disrupting chemicals. It is thanks to Theo Colborn, WWF and the other NGOs, that endocrine disrupting chemicals were put  on the agenda and also into REACH, which is what we use today to regulate harmful chemicals.

 What impact has Theo’s work had globally?

When she brought these scientists together in 1991 they were from all around the world, so it was truly a global group, and so her message had a global reach. There was upset amongst chemical companies and documentaries made all around the world. While she had a global impact, the only part of the world that made formal legislation on endocrine disrupting chemicals was the EU.

 What influence has Theo’s work, or working alongside her, had on your own career?

She has definitely been the inspiration for my life’s work. I personally felt, the way that she did, that unless we get on top of these endocrine disrupting chemicals we were going to undermine the wellbeing of future generations. And then it was almost a perfect storm. Theo was undertaking the research in the US, I was in the UK and understood the science and policy, WWF was the world’s largest environmental organisation, and the European Union was producing environmental legislation to try and protect human health and the environment. We eventually got the EU to include endocrine disrupting properties as a criterion for managing chemicals. That is thanks to Theo, and that is all that my life’s work has been about.

 How is Theo an inspiration for others?

One of the things about Theo is that she was quite softly spoken, she didn’t have a massive ego, she just knew her science was right. She was a woman and most of her adversaries were men in grey suits working for big chemical companies, and she had an enormous adversary in that. I felt that it was one woman espousing the science, with the whole of the chemical industry wanting to shoot her down. But she would not be put off by others, she just kept going because she knew the science was right.

 Also, she had come to this quite late in life. It wasn’t until she was in her 50s, 60s, 70s, that she produced this new hypothesis of hormone disruptors. So, I suppose that says to me, you might have had a career, or children, and be wondering what you can achieve now. Well, Theo started her whole career on endocrine disrupting chemicals in her 50s, and look at the impact that her work has had.

Written by Eleanor Hawke on March 7, 2019.
Reference. Image credit wikimedia.

Twenty-Five Years of Endocrine Disruption Science: Remembering Theo Colborn


For nearly 30 years, Dr. Theo Colborn (1927–2014) dedicated herself to studying the harmful effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on wildlife, humans, and the environment. More recently, she extended this effort to address the health impacts of unconventional oil and gas development. Colborn was a visionary leader who excelled at synthesizing scientific findings across disciplines. Using her unique insights and strong moral convictions, she changed the face of toxicological research, influenced chemical regulatory policy, and educated the public. In 2003, Colborn started a nonprofit organization—The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX). As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of endocrine disruption science, TEDX continues her legacy of analyzing the extensive body of environmental health research and developing unique educational resources to support public policy and education. Among other tools, TEDX currently uses the systematic review framework developed by the National Toxicology Program at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, to answer research questions of pressing concern. In this article, we pay homage to the tenacious woman and the exemplary contribution she made to the field of environmental health. Recommendations for the future of the field are drawn from her wisdom.

Les liens entre les industries agroalimentaire et pharmaceutique

Interview de Vandana Shiva, Brut, Février 2019

Selon Vandana Shiva, des multinationales s’enrichissent en vendant des médicaments pour soigner des maladies qu’elles ont elles-mêmes provoquées.

L’écologiste Vandana Shiva dénonce le “cartel du poison”, Brut, Février 2019.

How chemicals can affect the health of developing children

There is an increased concern about endocrine-disrupting chemicals, especially their interference on the thyroid gland

The impact of such chemicals on thyroid hormone levels, especially those of pregnant women during the first three months of pregnancy, may result in neurodevelopmental diseases, autism and IQ loss in the unborn child.

Barbara Demeneix, Professor from the French National Museum of Natural History, explains why these chemicals affect the signalling of thyroid hormones and what we can do to protect our children.

Video published on 7 February 2018, by EUchemicals.

The negative impact of the environment on methylation/epigenetic marking in gametes and embryos

A plea for action to protect the fertility of future generations, 17 January 2019


Life expectancy has increased since World War II and this may be attributed to several aspects of modern lifestyles. However, now we are faced with a downturn, which seems to be the result of environmental issues. This paradigm is paralleled with a reduction in human fertility: decreased sperm quality and increased premature ovarian failure and diminished ovarian reserve syndromes.

Endocrine Disruptor Compounds (EDCs) and other toxic chemicals: herbicides, pesticides, plasticizers, to mention a few, are a rising concern in today environment. Some of these are commonly used in the domestic setting: cleaning material and cosmetics and they have a known impact on epigenesis and imprinting via perturbation of methylation processes. Pollution from Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH), particulate matter (PM), <10 and <2.5 μm and ozone, released into the air all affect fertility. Poor food processing management is a source DNA adducts formation, impairing gametes quality. An important question to be answered is that of nanoparticles (NPs) that are present in food and which are thought to induce oxidative stress. Now is the time to take a step backwards. Global management of the environment and food production is required urgently in order to protect the fertility of future generations.


DES and the GENES

Impact of endocrine disrupting chemicals exposure on fecundity as measured by time to pregnancy

A systematic review;, Environmental research, 2018 Dec


Emerging scientific evidence suggests that exposure to environmental pollutants is associated with negative effects on fecundity as measured by time to pregnancy (TTP).

To conduct a systematic review of the literature on the association between selected endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), and fecundity as measured by TTP in humans. Compounds included in this review are: brominated flame retardants (BFRs) such as hexabromocyclododecane, tetrabromobiphenol A and polybrominated diphenyl ethers; organophosphates flame retardants (OPFRs); and phthalates.

Scopus, MEDLINE via Ebscohost and EMBASE databases were searched for articles exploring the relationships between selected EDCs and fecundity as measured by time to pregnancy. We assessed the quality of included studies and evidence for causality was graded using the criteria developed by the World Cancer Research Fund.

14 studies of 191 full-text articles assessed for eligibility were included for qualitative synthesis. Five studies examined BFRs and 10 studies examined phthalates. Among the fourteen, one study assessed both BFRs and phthalates. There were no studies which investigated fecundity as measured by TTP on HBCD, TBBPA, or OPFRs. We recorded plausible fecundity outcomes as measured by TTP related to some of these EDCs. BFRs or phthalates increased TTP. However, results were inconsistent.

We recorded mostly weak associations between exposure to selected EDCs and fecundity. However, evidence was considered limited to conclude a causal relationship due to inconsistency of results. The health risks posed by these chemicals in exposed populations are only beginning to be recognized and prospective measurement of the environmental effects of the chemicals in large cohort studies are urgently needed to confirm these relationships and inform policies aimed at exposure prevention

Personal care product use and breast cancer risk

Associations between Personal Care Product Use Patterns and Breast Cancer Risk among White and Black Women in the Sister Study

New Research from USA NIEHS sister study of 47,000 women, suggests a link between frequent and moderate use of beauty products and breast cancer. The study reviews effects of environment and endocrine disruptors on risks of breast cancer and fibroids.

2018 Study Abstract

Many personal care products include chemicals that might act as endocrine disruptors and thus increase the risk of breast cancer.

We examined the association between usage patterns of beauty, hair, and skin-related personal care products and breast cancer incidence in the Sister Study, a national prospective cohort study (enrollment 2003–2009).

Non-Hispanic black (4,452) and white women (n=42,453) were examined separately using latent class analysis (LCA) to identify groups of individuals with similar patterns of self-reported product use in three categories (beauty, skin, hair). Multivariable Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for associations between product use and breast cancer incidence.

A total of 2,326 women developed breast cancer during follow-up (average follow-up=5.4y). Among black women, none of the latent class hazard ratios was elevated, but there were <100 cases in any category, limiting power. Among white women, those classified as “moderate” and “frequent” users of beauty products had increased risk of breast cancer relative to “infrequent” users [HR=1.13 (95% CI: 1.00, 1.27) and HR=1.15 (95% CI: 1.02, 1.30), respectively]. Frequent users of skincare products also had increased risk of breast cancer relative to infrequent users [HR=1.13 (95% CI: 1.00, 1.29)]. None of the hair product classes was associated with increased breast cancer risk. The associations with beauty and skin products were stronger in postmenopausal women than in premenopausal women, but not significantly so.

This work generates novel hypotheses about personal care product use and breast cancer risk. Whether these results are due to specific chemicals or to other correlated behaviors needs to be evaluated.