Is Roundup pesticide really safe?

The Hindu out of India has reported that a new study has been published in the journal Toxicology Reports authored by two scientists from Department of Molecular Reproduction, Development and Genetics, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru Medhamurthy Rudraiah and Aparamita Pandey. The researchers are said to have found steroid hormone imbalances in rats exposed to Roundup herbicide.

Previous studies have linked the herbicide — which contains glyphosate — to diseases such as Parkinson’s, infertility and skin cancer. The herbicide kills weeds by inhibiting enzymes that synthesise aromatic amino acids essential for plant development. As humans and mammals do not have the enzymes, the herbicide was marketed as being a non-toxic alternative to chemicals.

The IISc researchers subjected male rats to varying levels of Roundup exposure — the minimum being just 10 mg per kg of the rat while the maximum dosage was 250 mg per kg. The rats were orally administered the weed killer for two weeks.

The outcome of the experiment is cause for concern: male rats were seen with decreasing testosterone production (which affects sexual functions) as well as Adreno-Cortico-Tropic Hormone from the pituitary gland (which affects the body’s ability in maintaining normal glucose and fat metabolism).

All of this sounds ominous until you actually read what is in the manuscript itself. In the Discussion section of the manuscript is this key paragraph:

The present study describes one of the possible mechanisms of adrenal insufficiency due to Roundup® and suggests more systematic studies, to investigate the area further.

Meaning that while the scientists have found problems exposing rats to Roundup pesticide, it is a possible mechanism bringing on steroid hormone imbalances and more study needs to be done as they are not sure if the exposure would be consistent with their findings in future research. Of course there is room for concern but exposure to pesticides on the part of rats and humans would result in very different outcomes. It is scientific studies like this the media uses draw ratings and environmentalists love to use in order to justify banning pesticides in order to restrict the human food supply.