PhotoPesticides have long been popular in the news cycle, and now, researchers are exploring how one popular weed killer could be negatively affecting the health of consumers across multiple generations.

According to researchers from Washington State University (WSU), exposure to glyphosate -- an ingredient in some of the most popular weed killers in the world -- was linked to several negative health effects, including birth defects and an uptick in serious, fatal diseases.

Protecting future generations

Because it is “one of the most commonly used compounds worldwide,” WSU professor Michael Skinner undertook this study to see how exposure to glyphosate affected different generations.

Skinner and his team exposed pregnant mice to the chemical, in half the dosage deemed safe for exposure, between day eight and day fourteen of pregnancy. The researchers determined no real threat to the pregnant mice or their babies when exposed to the harmful chemical; however, the real trouble started with future generations.

Obesity was a common trend among the mice in the third generation, with 40 percent of mice in this group developing that condition. Moreover, third generation female mice experienced kidney disease at a clip that was 40 percent higher than those of their same generation who didn’t have exposure to glyphosate in their ancestral line. Male mice in this line were 30 percent more likely to have prostate issues.

Birth defects and difficult pregnancies were rampant in the second generation mice, with over 33 percent of the subjects in this group losing babies. This is also true of pregnant women, as exposure to glyphosate has been known to be incredibly harmful to expectant mothers.

The mice in this group were also at an increased risk of diseases related to gender-specific hormones, as well as obesity.

None of these health effects should be taken lightly, and the researchers hope that these findings illuminate just how dangerous these commonly used chemicals can be and how the effects are felt across generations.

“The ability of glyphosate and other environmental toxicants to impact our future generations needs to be considered, and is potentially as important as the direct exposure toxicology done today for risk assessment,” the authors wrote.

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