by Dave Mihalovic | Prevent Disease | October 23, 2014
Study examines link between proximity to pesticide fields and later diagnosis
“Essentially what happens is during pregnancy…there are certain sensitive periods where the fetus is very vulnerable to a range of small molecules — from things like plasticisers, prescription drugs, environmental pesticides and other things. Some of these small molecules essentially alter normal development. Autism appears to be strongly correlated with rate of congenital malformations of the genitals in males across the country, this gives an indicator of environmental load and the effect is surprisingly strong. The strongest predictors for autism were associated with the environment; congenital malformations on the reproductive system in males.” stated Andrey Rzhetsky, Professor of Genetic Medicine and Human Genetics at the University of Chicago.
Glyphosate is an herbicide produced and marketed by Monsanto Corporation, the agrochemical and biotechnology giant. Monsanto claims that glyphosate is safe and has successfully lobbied the Environmental Protection Agency to raise the residue limits of this toxic chemical.
Independent scientists disagree with Monsanto: several recently published peer-reviewed studies point to serious health impacts from exposure to this toxic herbicide.
Roundup herbicide may also be the most important factor in development of autism and other chronic disease. Glyphosate does induce disease and is a “textbook example of exogenous semiotic entropy.” Glyphosate inhibits detoxification of xenobiotics and interferes with cytochrome P450 enzymes, which enhances the damaging effects of other chemical residues and toxins, and very slowly damages cellular systems in the body through inflammation. Residues of glyphosate are found in sugar, corn, soy, and wheat, some of the main components of the Western diet.
One such study, published in the journal Ecotoxicology, found that glyphosate is toxic to water fleas (Daphnia magna) at minuscule levels that are well within the levels expected to be found in the environment.
According to regulators, glyphosate is thought to be practically nontoxic to aquatic invertebrates. The water flea is a widely accepted model for environmental toxicity, so this study throws serious doubt on glyphosate’s classification as environmentally safe.
Despite any limitations in the study, Philippe Grandjean, an adjunct professor of environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health adds, “The researchers must be praised for having been able to link data on pesticide usage to geocoded residences during pregnancy.” Joseph Braun, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Brown University, describes the work as “the cutting edge of research into environmental determinants of autism.” Braun also was not involved in the study.
The study provides new directions for exploration. “Until about five years ago, virtually all research on autism assumed that the disease was entirely genetic in origin, and that environmental exposures did not play a role,” says Robert Wright, director of the Division of Environmental Health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, who was not involved in the research. “Rising rates of autism and failure to find genetic causes despite a multitude of very large genetic studies has led to a major shift in focus in the field. These chemicals are a solid lead that needs to be followed.”