Roundup May Increase Risk Antibiotic Resistance to Bacterial Infection That Kills Thousands of Americans Every Year: Study

Exposure to sublethal levels of Roundup led to the development of antibiotic resistance in P. aeruginosa, which can cause pneumonia and other serious infections

Amid continuing concerns about the long-term side effects of Roundup and glyphosate contained in the widely used weedkiller, which has previously been linked to a risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, researchers indicate that exposure may also contribute to dangerous bacteria becoming resistant to available antibiotics, which commonly result in severe injury or death.

In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) decided to classify glyphosate in Roundup as a probable cancer-causing agent, and the manufacturer has been accused of covering up information about the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for decades, to avoid any impact on sales.

As a result of Monsanto’s failure to disclose that risk associated with their widely marketed weed killer, tens of thousands of Roundup lawsuits have been filed in recent years, which uncovered internal documents that highlighted how the company has covered up negative findings associated with glyphosate for decades, and manipulated study results involving the widely used weed killer.

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While much of the recent research has been focused on the cancer risks of glyphosate, Roundup’s active ingredient, there have also been long concerns about its effects on the environment, pollinators like bees, and on microorganisms.

Researchers from Hungary now warn that low-dose exposure to glyphosate acid (GLY) and glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs), like Roundup, appears to increase the antibiotic resistance properties of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause serious infections and pneumonia. Their findings were published in late October in the scientific journal Science Reports.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) is a gram-negative bacteria often found in soil and water. However, it is often spread in healthcare settings through contaminated surfaces, people and equipment and can often develop antibiotic resistant properties.

P. aeruginosa infections can be life threatening, resulting in pneumonia, fevers and chills, breathing problems, chest pain, fatigue and coughs. It has a mortality rate ranging widely from 18% to 61%.

Roundup Exposure Linked to Development of Antibiotic Resistance

In this latest study, researchers exposed the bacteria to sublethal levels of glyphosate, which could be encountered in the environment due to the herbicide’s wide use over soil and water worldwide. The study found that exposure to glyphosate at those levels increased the bacteria’s ability to develop antibiotic resistance.

The researchers also found that this development of antibiotic resistance was likely dose-dependent, meaning the higher the dose of glyphosate which didn’t kill the bacteria, the more likely the development of antibiotic resistance. Dose-dependent findings are often considered a strong sign of a causal relationship.

“Considering the worldwide use of GLY and GBHs, and the simultaneous emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in environmental matrices, the detected interactions between these chemicals may affect microbial communities and possess a potential environmental- and human health risk,” the researchers warned. “Exploring the underlying mechanisms of this phenomenon is essential for further risk management.”

Roundup Lawsuits Over Glyphosate Risks

Following the release of other studies which highlighted the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from glyphosate, thousands of Roundup lawsuits have been brought against Monsanto in recent years, each raising similar allegations that the manufacturer failed to adequately warn about the cancer risks associated with glyphosate and manipulated studies to avoid regulations that would limit use of the weed killer.

After several years of litigation and massive verdicts returned in a number of early trials, Bayer and its Monsanto subsidiary have agreed to pay billions in Roundup settlements for former users diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and the companies are expected to continue to face claims over the glyphosate-based weed killer for years to come.

In response to the growing concerns and massive verdicts, the manufacturer announced plans last year to remove glyphosate from Roundup versions of the weed killers sold to U.S. residential customers by 2023. The products would still be sold under the Roundup label, but would use a different active ingredient, which has not been linked to a risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other side effects. However, glyphosate would still be used in products sold to agricultural businesses and farmers, and in products sold in other parts of the world.


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