Warning on garden chemical
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.