Glyphosate is sold under the name Roundup. Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) are frequently associated in agriculture with genetically modified organisms (GMO,) such as soy beans. This combination is widely used in South America with little study of the impact on the environment or on the health of people.
There have been numerous studies outside of the herbicide industry showing endocrine disruptor activity of the glyphosates. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals which upset the normal hormonal balance of the body. The environment is involved since any animal that produces hormones can be altered by endocrine disruptors.
Endocrine disruptors are especially important during fetal development. There have been reports of women living close to GBH/GMO soy bean fields having babies born with head, brain, and facial malformations in Argentina.
The GBH Roundup interferes with cellular aromatase enzyme activity. Aromatase activity is necessary to produce estrogen from testosterone. Other components increase the absorption and bioavailability of Roundup to the cells. Other actions of Roundup are damaging to placental and embryonic cells. Rats fed genetically modified corn (with Roundup residues) showed damage to liver, kidney, heart, and blood system.
The present study was of the effect of a very weak solution of glyphosate (1/5,000) on the embryos of Xenopus laevis (African clawed frog) and chickens. Craniofacial fetal defects were seen at a concentration much weaker than would be sprayed on fields. There was impairment of the normal growth of the neural crest. There was reduction of the normal activity in the fetus which divides the one brain into two hemispheres and the one eye into two separate eyes.
The types of craniofacial deformities seen were consistent with those seen with excess retinoic acid (RA) activity, a well-known syndrome. RA activity is increased by Roundup and related herbicides. RA is a derivative of vitamin A. The deformities related to Roundup chemicals were prevented experimentally by blocking RA activity. The results were seen in various animals.
In Argentina, two hundred millions of liters of GBH are used on soy beans, annually. Reports of facial and cranial deformities similar to those from increased RA activity are increasing. The products of GBH can pass the placental barrier.
CONCLUSION: “To our knowledge, the results presented in this work show for the first time that at least some of the malformations produced by GBH in vertebrate embryos are due to an increase of endogenous RA activity, consistent with the well-known syndrome produced by an excess of RA.”
GBHs are endocrine disruptors which inhibit the aromatase enzyme which are needed to produce sex hormones. Abnormalities of aromatase enzyme activity in embryos cause birth defects.
NOTE: Aromatase enzyme inhibitors have been developed to treat breast cancer. There are herbal aromatase inhibitors.
Craniofacial defects include serious brain abnormalities and cleft lips which can be repaired surgically.
Carrasco, A., as a part of the research group reported the results of the study before it was published because of the frightening results. Clicking on his name will link you to an article about cancer in Argentina among soy workers exposed to Roundup.