New Study Shows Roundup Herbicide Causes Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria

Posted on Mar 24 2015 - 10:39am by Sustainable Pulse

Research lead by a team from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand has found that commonly used herbicides, including the world’s most used herbicide Roundup, can cause bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics.

antibiotic resistant bacteria

Full Study:  mbio.asm.org/content/6/2/e00009-15

Herbicides are used to kill plants. They can be tested for killing bacteria, too, as part of the process of reviewing their approval for use. However, they have never been tested for other effects on bacteria, University of Canterbury’s Professor Jack Heinemann says.

This is the first study of its kind in the world. While other substances such as aspirin have been shown to change bacteria’s tolerance to antibiotics herbicides have never been tested. The team at the University of Canterbury investigated what happens to species of disease-causing bacteria when they are exposed to common herbicides such as Roundup, Kamba and 2,4-D.

“We found that exposure to some very common herbicides can cause bacteria to change their response to antibiotics. They often become antibiotic resistant, but we also saw increased susceptibility or no effect. In most cases, we saw increased resistance even to important clinical antibiotics,” Professor Heinemann says.

“We were so surprised by what we were seeing. We wanted to be sure it wasn’t an artefact of conditions in our laboratory or some kind of contamination. So we enlisted a fellow researcher at Massey who conducted the same experiments but without knowing what she was adding to the bacteria. She got the same results.”

The effects found are relevant wherever people or animals are exposed to herbicides at the range of concentrations achieved where they are applied. This may include, for example, farm animals and pollinators in rural areas and potentially children and pets in urban areas. The effects were detectable only at herbicide concentrations that were above currently allowed residue levels on food.

Antibiotic resistance is a serious and growing problem for human and animal health. New antibiotics are hard to find and can take decades to become available. Effects of chemicals such as herbicides could conflict with measures taken to slow the spread of antibiotic resistance.

The research team included researchers from Mexico, Lincoln University and Massey University.

For further information contact Professor Jack Heinemann, School of Biological Sciences, jack.heinemann@canterbury.ac.nz

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8 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. GMOsRSeedyBusiness March 25, 2015 at 06:49 - Reply

    Just how many problems is Roundup presenting to us?

  2. Julie Matovu March 26, 2015 at 10:51 - Reply

    Thanks Prof. for sharing this great discovery. We are intoxicating ourselves as we watch.

    Julie

  3. Mike March 26, 2015 at 12:15 - Reply

    Just another nail in the coffin for Monsatano. You can only push profits ahead of people for so long…

  4. Stuart March 30, 2015 at 03:20 - Reply

    There should be a call for RoundUp and its executives to digest RoundUp in a meal to prove to America it is safe. Guaranteed not one would.

    • career_sicentist December 14, 2015 at 23:55 - Reply

      This was attempted! If I recall correctly, a TV talk show host in Quebec had some Monsanto shill on the show, and asked him if glyphosate was safe. The guest said it’s so safe, you could drink it. The host then offered him a glass of glyphosate dissolved in water. The guest reneged and ended up walking off the show.

  5. Cliff Love May 30, 2015 at 22:59 - Reply

    About three years ago it was reported in farming papers that the U.S. Dept of Defense was studying the effects of glyphosate and the increase in populations of salmonella and e-coli due to their ability to become immune to its effects while other soil borne bacteria were still harmed.

    Stuart, you can drink Round Up and walk away. It doesn’t work like that, at least not on more complex creatures like mammals.

  6. alexandria December 15, 2015 at 03:38 - Reply

    “The effects were detectable only at herbicide concentrations that were above currently allowed residue levels on food”. Weird how they didn’t test if ‘organic’ pesticides cause the same response. It’s as if a multi billion dollar organic industry is trying to hide something.

  7. KSV December 22, 2015 at 19:23 - Reply

    And don’t forget Roundup is used in non-gmo crops and is sprayed on wheat and other grains just before harvest to increase yields,

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