A weedkilling chemical related to cancer was found in more than 80% of urine samples taken from kids and adults in a US health research, a discovery that scientists have labeled “disturbing” and “concerning.”
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According to a research (read below) by a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1,885 of 2,310 urine samples obtained from Americans who were supposed to be representative of the US population had detectable amounts of glyphosate in them. The extensively used Roundup brand of herbicides contain this as their primary active component. Children aged 6 to 18 made up over a third of the participants.
High concentrations of the herbicide glyphosate have been detected in examinations of human urine samples for years by academic and private researchers. But the CDC has only lately begun looking into how much glyphosate is being exposed to people in the US, and its research comes at a time when there are growing worries and debates about the effects that herbicides in food and water have on human and environmental health.
“I expect that the realization that most of us have glyphosate in our urine will be disturbing to many people,” said Lianne Sheppard, professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of Washington. Thanks to the new research, “we know that a large fraction of the population has it in urine. Many people will be thinking about whether that includes them.”
Sheppard co-wrote a 2019 analysis that concluded glyphosate exposure raises the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, as well as a 2019 research report that examined 19 studies that showed glyphosate in human urine.
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According to research published in 2017 by researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, both the quantity and prevalence of glyphosate discovered in human urine have been progressively increasing since the 1990s when Monsanto Co. introduced genetically engineered crops made to be sprayed directly with Roundup.
Paul Mills, the study’s lead scientist, stated at the time that there was “an urgent need” for a full investigation of the effects of glyphosate on human health from regularly consumed foods.
US farmers apply upwards of 200 million pounds of glyphosate on their fields every year. The weedkiller is sprayed directly over genetically modified crops like maize and soybeans as well as over non-genetically modified crops like wheat and oats to desiccate the crops and dry them out before harvest. Many farmers, especially those who cultivate spinach and almonds, use it on fields before the growing season. It is regarded as the herbicide that has been used the most frequently throughout history.
Many common foods, including baby food, that are produced from crops sprayed with glyphosate have been found to have glyphosate residues. For youngsters, eating habits are the main exposure pathway.
Remaining residues from glyphosate and Roundup products in food and human urine are not a health hazard, according to Monsanto and Bayer, the firm that acquired it in 2018.
They disagree with numerous scientists and the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, which identified glyphosate as a potential human carcinogen in 2015.
On the other hand, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified glyphosate as not likely to be carcinogenic. But a federal appeals court ruled against the agency last month, nullifying its safety assessment and directing it to “further consider” the evidence of glyphosate dangers.
“People of all ages should be concerned, but I’m particularly concerned for children,” said Phil Landrigan, who spent years working at the CDC and the EPA before leading the Program for Global Public Health and the Common Good at Boston College.
“Children are more heavily exposed to pesticides than adults because pound-for-pound they drink more water, eat more food and breathe more air,” Landrigan said. “Also, children have many years of future life when they can develop diseases with long incubation periods such as cancer. This is particularly a concern with the herbicide, glyphosate.”
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), whose research is normally highly regarded by scientists, produced the latest CDC statistics.
Although it is “obviously concerning,” according to Cynthia Curl, assistant professor of community and environmental health at Boise State University, that a sizable portion of the US population is exposed to glyphosate, it is yet unclear how this affects people’s health.
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