Washington State University 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 popular weed killer and main ingredient in Roundup herbicide. 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 Washington State University professor of biological sciences, and his colleagues exposed pregnant rats to the herbicide between their 8th 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.
“The ability of glyphosate and other environmental toxicants to impact our future generations needs to be considered,” the researchers wrote, “and is potentially as important as the direct exposure toxicology done today for risk assessment.”