Scientists link 'very low doses' of glyphosate to liver disease in rats

Glyphosate is an active substance widely used in herbicides
Glyphosate is an active substance widely used in herbicides

A new study published today (9 January) has shown that the glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide causes non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in rats at 'very low' doses.

The study, by Scientific Reports, used cutting edge profiling methods to describe the molecular composition of the livers of female rats administered with an extremely low dose of Roundup weedkiller over a 2-year period.

The dose of glyphosate from the Roundup administered was thousands of times below what is permitted by regulators worldwide.

The study revealed that these animals suffered from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

This study is unique in that it is the first to show a causative link between consumption of Roundup at a real-world environmental dose and a serious disease condition.


Dr Michael Antoniou, of King’s College London, stated: “The findings of our study are very worrying as they demonstrate for the first time a causative link between an environmentally relevant level of Roundup consumption over the long-term and a serious disease – namely non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

“Our results also suggest that regulators should reconsider the safety evaluation of glyphosate-based herbicides.”

The new results demonstrate that long-term consumption of an ultra-low dose of Roundup at a glyphosate daily intake level of only 4 nanograms per kilogram of bodyweight per day, which is 75,000 times below EU and 437,500 below US permitted levels, results in NAFLD.

Regulators worldwide tend to accept toxicity studies in rats as indicators of human health risks, so the results of this study may have serious implications for human health.


A spokesperson for the Crop Protection Association called the study 'flawed'.

The spokesperson said: “This study uses samples from the now infamous 2012 Seralini study, which was found to be so flawed by multiple global regulatory bodies that it was discredited by the scientific community and formally retracted by the journal which originally published it.

“This report itself also calls for more confirmatory studies and we will be reviewing the detailed claims of the report.

“Glyphosate is amongst the most thoroughly tested herbicides on the market, and those studies by expert regulators have consistently concluded that glyphosate does not pose a risk to public health. Glyphosate is a crucial tool in a farmers’ armoury.

“To put things in perspective, glyphosate is less toxic than baking soda, table salt, the caffeine in our coffee and many other products we all use or consume regularly.”