Glyphosate Implicated In Chronic Kidney Disease Epidemic

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Glyphosate Implicated In Chronic Kidney Disease EpidemicImages – Pixabay (PD)

Chronic kidney disease or CKD is a condition characterized by loss of kidney function, persisting for more than six months (conditions that are shorter than six months are called acute). People can get sick with CKD because of a variety of factors, typically because of an unhealthy diet high in sodium and persistent hypertension.

According to Jayasumana, et. al., CKD of unknown etiology was first discovered among the Sri Lanka farmers in the mid-1990s. It first started in the North Central Province and spreading out to neighboring farming areas over the next twenty years. Over 400,000 people were affected, with mortality rates reaching 20,000. The affected farmers were not diagnosed with co-morbidities like diabetes or hypertension but were showing the dangerous signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease. [1]

The “cluster” of CKD cases in Sri Lanka suggested to researchers that something environmental be causing kidney damage – and they found a correlation between the unusually high number of CKD cases and the use of glyphosate (Roundup) – the most widely used herbicide in the affected area.

Toxic nephropathy is what the researchers suggest is causing the kidney diseases among the farmers. While glyphosate alone is considered not enough to cause CKD, the combination with water hardness and nephrotoxic metals are thought to damage the kidney’s tissues severely.

The researchers found that there was a positive association between hard water drinking and CKD. Hard water is water with high mineral content, like calcium and magnesium deposits from the water percolating through rock. Over 96 percent of affected farmers consumed hard water for at least five years. However there are people in many other places who have hard water and not the kidney disease.

Further research revealed a factor specific to the area — the use of glyphosate as a herbicide. This chemical is marketed widely all over the world as “Roundup” produced by the Monsanto Company. Glyphosate is far from being environmental friendly and takes a long time because it degrades – it stays for approximately 92 days in water and 47 days in soil, enough time to seem into the farm’s drinking water sources. [1][2]

Ayoola in 2008 found that glyphosate caused necrosis in the kidney tissues in test subjects exposed to the chemical. Seralini similarly concluded that glyphosate exposure through the diet caused increases in serum creatinine and blood urea nitrogen, two of the most important markers of kidney health. Kruger, et. in 2010 discovered the same nephrotoxic effects on test subjects exposed to glyphosate. [3][4][5]

Jayasuma, et. al. conducted another study published in 2015, focusing on farmers visiting the Padavi-Sripura hospital and being diagnosed with CKD. They had the same conclusion, that an interplay of factors – hardness of water and intake of and exposure to glyphosate – caused severe damage to the kidneys, leading to chronic kidney diseases. [6]

Because of the scientific community’s focus on the nephrotoxic effects of glyphosate, Sri Lanka’s president in 2015 banned the use of the herbicide in the country. However, Roundup, which uses glyphosate as a main ingredient, is still popularly used in the United States, marketed by a big company not only towards farmers but also as a herbicide you can use in your own home. The commercialization of glyphosate is a scary thought to consider, since it has been linked to kidney damage and chronic illness. Using Roundup in your own garden means you are receiving direct exposure to the chemical and potentially raising your risk (as well as your loved ones’) of getting sick.

Instead of choosing a dangerous chemical to control weeds in your home garden, opt for natural methods instead. Vinegar is a popular choice to kill weeks, because it easy to find and even easier to use. Just be careful that you don’t douse your plant with the liquid!

Article by Samantha Fernandez for © 2017


[1] Jayasumana, C., et. al. (2014). Glyphosate, Hard Water and Nephrotoxic Metals: Are They the Culprits Behind the Epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology in Sri Lanka?

[2] Roundup.

[3] Ayoola S.O. Histopathological effect of glyphosate on Juvenile African Catfish (Clarias gariepinus) Am. Eurasian J. Agric. Environ. Sci. 2008;4:362–367. doi: 10.3844/ajessp.2008.362.366.…/

[4] Seralini, G., et. al. (2007). New analysis of a rat feeding study with a genetically modified maize reveals signs of hepatorenal toxicity.

[5] Krüger M., Schrödl W., Neuhaus J., Shehata A.A. Field investigations of glyphosate in urine of Danish dairy cows. J. Environ. Anal. Toxicol. 2013;3 doi: 10.4172/2161-0525.1000186.…/

[6] Jayasumana, C., et. al. (2015). Drinking well water and occupational exposure to Herbicides is associated with chronic kidney disease, in Padavi-Sripura, Sri Lanka.

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