A new cutting edge study from Kings College, London has found that residues of popular weedkiller glyphosate found in food can cause fatty liver disease. This is another huge blow for glyphosate, but is it the final nail in the coffin?
Glyphosate is the world’s most widely sold weedkiller, commonly found in Monsanto’s Roundup, and we’re fighting to ban it as a pre-harvest treatment. Glyphosate is sprayed on our wheat and other cereals just before harvest – mainly to allow machines to go a little faster. From there it follows the grain into our bread; recent testing by the Defra Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF) found that almost two thirds of wholemeal bread sampled contained glyphosate. Supermarkets and bread manufacturers say this is quite OK as Roundup is usually below official safety levels.
However, this new peer-reviewed study, led by Dr Michael Antoniou at King’s College London, has found that weedkillers like Roundup cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease at very low doses, thousands of times below levels permitted by regulators worldwide. This research is the first evidence of a clear causative link between consumption of Roundup – at levels that are found in the real world – and a serious disease. It follows previous findings from the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, who concluded that glyphosate is a ‘probable carcinogen’.
It is extraordinary that glyphosate, in use for decades, has only now been recognised as a cause of the liver disease NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease), which can cause fatigue, weakness, weight loss, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain, spider-like blood vessels, yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), itching, fluid build-up and swelling of the legs and abdomen, and mental confusion.
The study was conducted over two years, where rats were administered a very low daily dose of four nanograms per kilogram of bodyweight per day. To put that into perspective that is 75,000 times below the levels of glyphosate permitted by the EU in our food. According to lead researcher Dr Michael Antoniou, previous studies on human urine found that we often consume around a thousand times the amount of glyphosate the rats consumed. Regulators globally accept toxicity studies in rats as indicators of human health risk, making this a significant, and truly disturbing, discovery.
The news about Roundup comes just as France announces an official ban on the use of all harmful chemicals in outdoor places where young children, crucial pollinators and the general public frequently gather – the ban covers all public parks, gardens and forests including famed Parisian green spaces like Jardin des Tuileries, Bois de Vincennes and Jardin de Luxembourg. Only French cemeteries and sports stadiums are exempt. In 2019, the law will be extended to private gardens. These national moves follow cities like Lyon, France’s third-largest, and Strasbourg, which have kept all their public parks and gardens (300 in Lyon alone) pesticide-free since 2008.
We need to get this poisonous weedkiller out of our bread, and out of our bodies. We are calling for an end to spraying Glyphosate on crops just before they are harvested, and you can join the fight by joining us or writing to your local MP. This new study raises serious concerns for human health and must be taken seriously by Monsanto and the government; with enough pressure we can ensure it is the final nail in the coffin for glyphosate.