Glyphosate is an herbicide (the most widely used herbicide in human history), that is used to destroy certain plants and grasses, harvest crops, and ripen fruit. Since 1974, at least 18.9 billion pounds of glyphosate-based herbicides have been sprayed around the world. After the introduction of genetically modified crops in 1996, glyphosate usage has risen dramatically. (1,6)

A new peer-reviewed pilot study on women exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy increases scientists’ understanding of how the chemical acts as an endocrine disruptor in female infants.

A group of scientists from the United States and the European Union have concluded that the anogenital distance of baby girls is becoming more male-typical, due to their mothers being exposed to glyphosate when they are in the womb. (3)

Anogenital distance (AGD) is the distance from the midpoint of the anus to the genitalia, the underside of the scrotum, or the vagina. It is 50%–100% longer at birth in males than in females of most mammalian species. AGD is under hormonal influence during fetal development and has long been used as an early marker of reproductive toxicity. It has become a uniquely valuable metric in endocrine disruptor research. (4,5)

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that imitate or block hormones, causing the body’s normal functions to be disrupted. This disturbance may occur by altering normal hormone levels, stopping or stimulating hormone production, or interfering directly with the organ that the hormone is supposed to control. (1)

Endocrine disruptors can also tell cells to die prematurely, compete with essential nutrients and build up in hormone-producing organs. These imbalances and malfunctions of the endocrine system can lead to problems such as infertility, birth defects, erectile dysfunction, sexual development problems, neurological disorders, and many more. (1)

Glyphosate Exposure During Pregnancy

The study examined the concentration of glyphosate and its breakdown product (AMPA) in urine collected in mid-pregnancy in relation to anogenital distance at birth.

They found that higher exposure to these pesticide-derived chemicals was associated with a longer (more male-typical) anogenital distance in girls. (3)

In 2019, a study performed by independent scientific institutions around the world found that exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides caused reproductive and developmental effects in both male and female rats, at a dosage level that is currently considered safe in the U.S. (6)

The chemicals associated with herbicides have been shown to kill human cells, particularly embryonic, placental, and umbilical cord cells. Glyphosate, in particular, has been linked to an increase in the prevalence of chronic diseases. (2)

Low dose exposure to hormonally active chemicals can cause endocrine disruption because hormones function at such low doses. Endocrine disruptors are especially damaging to organisms undergoing hormonal changes: fetuses, babies, children, adolescents, and the elderly. (1,3)

Healthier Food 

Due to poor supply chain testing standards, glyphosate residue may be found in our food supply — on produce, in meat, and in packaged foods. Until food companies stop using crops sprayed with glyphosate, this may continue. (8)

Organic farmers (if they advertise themselves as such) are not allowed to use herbicides or pesticides on the foods they produce. Yet even organic production is far from perfect and some of the chemicals allowed in organic farming may still be unsafe and contaminated. (8,9)

Unless you are growing your own food or getting it from known sources, the best chance you have to eat healthily is to educate yourself, read labels correctly, and utilize a toxic ingredients guide such as this one from Dr. Nandi

Armed with this information, you can more easily traverse the supermarket aisles and put your money toward food that is safer for you and your family. 

Sources:

  1. https://thenaturalfarmer.org/issue/winter-2019-2020-glyphosate/?print=print-search 
  2. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/weed-whacking-herbicide-p/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33812205/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anogenital_distance
  5. 5https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/veterinary-science-and-veterinary-medicine/anogenital-distance
  6. https://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12940-019-0453-y
  7. https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news/glyphosate-contamination-food-goes-far-beyond-oat-products 
  8. https://www.bestfoodfacts.org/glyphosate-in-food/
  9. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi/httpblogsscientificamericancomscience-sushi20110718mythbusting-101-organic-farming-conventional-agriculture/