Scientists have discovered that exposure to three widely used herbicides including Monsanto’s Roundup and Kamba causes pathogenic bacteria to develop resistance to medically important antibiotics.
This is a very important scientific discovery. The study shows that the use of herbicides in intensive farming may be one of the reasons that antibiotic resistance has been increasing so rapidly in recent years.
A team of researchers from universities in New Zealand and Mexico have discovered that three herbicides (weed killers) widely used in agriculture and in gardens can make disease causing bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
Their paper, published in the online journal MBio, offers a new perspective on the problem of antibiotic resistance, which may help to explain why it has been increasing so rapidly in recent years.
The three herbicides they looked at were glyphosate, the world’s most widely used pesticide (formulations are sold by Monsanto as ‘Roundup’), dicamba (Kamba), which is proprietary to Monsanto, and 2,4-D, the active ingredient of the notorious ‘agent orange’ herbicide used by the US military to ‘defoliate’ rainforests in Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1960s.
These were tested on E. coli and Salmonella bacteria treated with one of five different antibiotics: Ciprofloxacin, chloramphenicol, ampicillin, kanamycin and tetracycline. E.coli cause more infections that any other type of bacteria. Both E.coli and Salmonella can cause serious, even fatal, infections.
In most cases even low levels of the herbicides had the effect of inducing antibiotic resistance before the antibiotics had time to kill the bacteria. In a few antibiotic / herbicide combinations they actually made the bacteria more susceptible to the antibiotic, while in other cases they had no impact.
The danger is on-farm, not in food