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Amid continuing concerns about the health risks associated with Roundup exposure, the findings of a new study suggesting that the controversial weedkiller is also destroying biodiversity, after examining algae communities in freshwater ponds.
In a report published in the March issue of Nature Ecology and Evolution, researchers indicate that Roundup use causes a 40% loss in biodiversity among phytoplankton communities in freshwater ponds.
Phytoplankton is a microscopic form of algae which forms the basic food for a number of aquatic species. Changes in its biodiversity can cause ripple effects far up the food chain.
Researchers conducted a two phase experiment where some communities were exposed to low to moderate doses, compared to algae communities who were not stressed by exposure to the herbicide. In the second phase, communities were exposed to doses of stress that were lethal.
Some communities were able to endure even lethal levels of stress from Roundup exposure. However, this resulted in 40% of the various species being wiped out.
This could result in problems from Roundup in the future, particularly when added to the stress of climate change, researchers warn.
Researchers said the findings should add to the concerns over the widespread use of Roundup and it’s active ingredient, glyphosate, worldwide.
Glyphosate was identified as a probable carcinogen in 2015, leading to a ban on use of the chemical in a number of countries and thousands of Roundup lawsuits in the United States, each involving allegations that users developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma or other cancers.
Although Bayer and its Monsanto subsidiary have continued to defend the safety of glyphosate, the companies have faced massive verdicts in several early trials that have gone forward in the United States, over failure to warn about the risks associated with Roundup exposure, including massive punitive damage awards designed to punish the manufacturer for withholding safety information from consumers and government regulators.
Over the next year, unless the manufacturer is able to reach Roundup settlements for the glyphosate cancer claims, a number of additional cases are expected to go to trial nationwide.