An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: A recent report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 80 percent of urine samples from children and adults in the US contain the herbicide glyphosate. A study conducted by Florida Atlantic University and New Southeastern University takes this research a step further and is the first to link the use of the herbicide Roundup, a widely used weed killer, to convulsions in animals. Glyphosate, the weed killer component in Roundup, is the most widely used herbicide in the world by volume and area treated. Glyphosate-resistant crops account for nearly 80 percent of GM cropland, resulting in 6.1 billion kilograms of glyphosate being sprayed worldwide from 2005 to 2014. Roundup is used at both the industrial and consumer levels, and its use is predicted to increase dramatically over the coming years. A major issue that remains to be fully understood is the potential effects of glyphosate on the nervous system.

The results, published in Scientific Reports, showed that glyphosate and Roundup increased seizure-like behavior in soil-dwelling roundworms and provide substantial evidence that glyphosate targets GABA-A receptors. These connection points are important for movement and are actively involved in the regulation of sleep and mood in humans. What really makes this study stand out is that it was conducted at much lower levels than the EPA recommends and those used in past studies. “The concentration listed for best results on the Roundup Super Concentrate label is 0.98 percent glyphosate, which is about 5 tablespoons of Roundup in 1 gallon of water,” he said. [project lead Akshay S. Naraine]. “An important finding of our study is that as little as 0.002 percent glyphosate, a difference of about 300 times less herbicide than the lowest concentration recommended for consumer use, had disturbing effects on the nervous system.”

Using C. elegans, a soil-dwelling roundworm, the researchers first tested glyphosate alone and then the Roundup formulation in the US and UK over two different time periods – before and after the 2016 ban on polyethoxylated talamine (POEA) in the UK. These conditions were chosen to determine precisely what effects are specific to the active ingredient glyphosate, Roundup formulations in general, POEA surfactants, or any combination thereof. The study found that the active ingredient glyphosate worsens seizures in C. elegans and suggests that the GABA-A receptor is the neurological target for the observed physiological changes. The data also show that there is an important difference between exposure to glyphosate and Roundup, with exposure to Roundup increasing the percentage of C. elegans that did not recover from seizure activity. The non-recovery phenotype and prolonged convulsions in C. elegans from this study helped lay the foundation for understanding the nuances of the herbicide’s physiological effects that occur at concentrations exponentially below neurotoxic levels.

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