Originally published on Sustainable Pulse
Washington State University (WSU) researchers have found a variety of diseases and other health problems in the second- and third-generation offspring of rats exposed to glyphosate, the world’s most used weed killer. In the first study of its kind, the researchers saw descendants of exposed rats developing prostate, kidney and ovarian diseases, obesity and birth abnormalities.
Michael Skinner, a WSU professor of biological sciences, and his colleagues exposed pregnant rats to the herbicide between their eighth and 14th days of gestation. The dose–half the amount expected to show no adverse effect–produced no apparent ill effects on either the parents or the first generation of offspring.
But writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers say they saw “dramatic increases” in several pathologies affecting the second and third generations. The second generation had “significant increases” in testis, ovary and mammary gland diseases, as well as obesity. In third-generation males, the researchers saw a 30 percent increase in prostate disease – three times that of a control population. The third generation of females had a 40 percent increase in kidney disease, or four times that of the controls.
More than one-third of the second-generation mothers had unsuccessful pregnancies, with most of those affected dying. Two out of five males and females in the third generation were obese.
Skinner and his colleagues call this phenomenon “generational toxicology” and they’ve seen it over the years in fungicides, pesticides, jet fuel, the plastics compound bisphenol A, the insect repellant DEET and the herbicide atrazine. At work are epigenetic changes that turn genes on and off, often because of environmental influences.