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By Eli Walsh
City News Service 

UCSD study finds link between Roundup herbicide and liver disease

 

Last updated 5/23/2019 at 10:10pm



Researchers at University of California San Diego published a study last week establishing a link between the weed killer Roundup and severe cases of liver disease in humans.

The researchers studied the amount of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, in the urine samples of two groups of people: one with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and one without. The study found that glyphosate residue was higher in the urine of subjects with liver disease regardless of possible underlying factors such as age, body mass index or race.

Company representatives could not be immediately reached for comment on the results of the study, which was published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

The university researchers surveyed 93% in total, 41% of whom were men and 42% were white. An additional 35% of subjects were Hispanic or Latino.

“There have been a handful of studies, all of which we cited in our paper, where animals either were or weren’t fed Roundup or glyphosate directly, and they all point to the same thing: the development of liver pathology,” university professor and study leader Paul Mills said. “So I naturally thought: ‘Well, could it be exposure to this same herbicide that is driving liver disease in the U.S.?’”

Roundup, manufactured by Monsanto, a subsidiary of the German chemical company Bayer AG, has rapidly increased in use since the mid-1990s. During that same period, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease cases in the U.S. have also risen significantly, according to researchers.

Glyphosate-based herbicides account for roughly half of Monsanto’s annual revenue, and most people are exposed to the chemical by eating non-organic grains like wheat and oats. Glyphosate is currently the most widely used herbicide in the country, according to University of California San Diego.

On Monday, a jury in Alameda County awarded more than $2 billion to a San Francisco Bay Area couple who claimed Roundup caused them to contract Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The verdict was the third Roundup-related legal battle Monsanto has lost in California since mid-2018. The company said it plans to appeal the decision, as it has the other two, and maintains that Roundup does not cause cancer or other illnesses.

“Bayer is disappointed with the jury's decision and will appeal the verdict in this case, which conflicts directly with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s interim registration review decision released just last month, the consensus among leading health regulators worldwide that glyphosate-based products can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic and the 40 years of extensive scientific research on which their favorable conclusions are based,” the company said in a statement.

More than 13,000 plaintiffs across the country currently have lawsuits pending against Monsanto.

Mills and the University of California San Diego research team plan to launch further studies into glyphosate’s effect on humans. One of those studies includes putting a group of subjects on a strict diet of organic food to track how herbicide-free food may affect the development of liver disease. The researchers also intend to monitor how other herbicides affect human health.

“There are so many synthetic chemicals we are regularly exposed to,” Mills said. “We measured just one.”

 

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