Warn­ing on gar­den chem­i­cal

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Opinion -

A CHEM­I­CAL heav­ily used in gar­dens and on food crops to kill weeds has been iden­ti­fied as a po­ten­tial health threat at lev­els deemed “safe”.

Glyphosate is the most com­monly used weed­killer in the world but ex­perts from Italy and the US found it had alarm­ing ef­fects on lab rats.

Use of the chem­i­cal has surged in re­cent years with traces found in tap water and foods from por­ridge oats to corn­flakes and ice cream.

It is the main in­gre­di­ent in the weed­killer Roundup, which is made by the chem­i­cals giant Mon­santo.

In the pi­lot study, rats were ex­posed to glyphosate at lev­els con­sid­ered safe by the US En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, ad­just­ing for the dif­fer­ence in the size of the an­i­mals com­pared to hu­mans.

Sci­en­tists found it had dis­rup­tive ef­fects on sex­ual de­vel­op­ment, genes and gut bac­te­ria.

Con­tro­versy has raged about the chem­i­cal since a World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion body, the In­ter­na­tional Agency for Re­search on Can­cer, judged it to be a “prob­a­ble hu­man car­cino­gen” in 2015. Nev­er­the­less, reg­u­la­tors in both the US and the EU later deemed it ac­cept­able for use.

The re­search team who worked on the lat­est study said the find­ings do not give a de­fin­i­tive an­swer as to whether the chem­i­cal is safe but said fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion would be needed to es­tab­lish long-term risks to hu­man health.

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