Glyphosate causes leukemia in young rats even at low doses

glyphosate causes leukemia

Exposure to low doses of glyphosate causes leukemia in rats. In particular, half of the deaths from blood cancer occur at an early age, within the first year of the guinea pig’s life.

New evidence on the toxicity of the most widespread herbicide in the world, which contaminates water and food, emerges from the Global Glyphosate Study (GGS), a scientific study coordinated by the Ramazzini Institute (Italy), with the participation of research bodies and scientists in Europe, United States and South America. (1)

1) Glyphosate, another 10 years of spills?

The gravity of the new evidence convinced researchers to anticipate what will be published starting from the beginning of 2024. The first data on the carcinogenicity of the Global Glyphosate Study were presented on 25.10.23 at the international scientific conference ‘Environment, work and health in the 21st century: strategies and solutions to a global crisis’, held in Bologna, Italy.

A reminder which could revive the memory of the now faded precautionary principle. And guide the EU Member States who in mid-November will vote on the European Commission’s proposal to renew the authorization of glyphosate for another 10 years.

Little does it matter, evidently, that the herbicide is linked to numerous evidence of toxicity and classified as a probable carcinogen by IARC, the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Nor the complaints from civil society of possible scientific fraud by Bayer, for having hidden studies on the neurotoxicity of the molecule. (2)

2) Glyphosate and juvenile leukemia

GGS constitutes the most comprehensive toxicological study ever conducted on glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides. The researchers administered three different substances at the same concentrations to the guinea pigs:

– glyphosate as it is,

– the herbicide Roundup BioFlow (MON 52276), based on glyphosate, used in the European Union,

– Ranger Pro (EPA 524-517), a glyphosate-based herbicide authorized in the United States.

The three agrotoxics were administered to guinea pigs, starting from prenatal life, via solution in drinking water, in three concentrations expressed in mg per kg of body weight per day:

– 0,5 mg/kg bw/day, equivalent to the ADI (acceptable daily intake) established in the EU,

– 5 mg/kg bw/day, 10 times the ‘acceptable daily dose’ in the EU,

– 50 mg/kg bw/day, the dose with no observed adverse effects (NOAEL) in the EU.

At these ‘safe’ doses, ‘About half of the leukemia deaths observed in rats exposed to glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides occurred in less than one year of life‘, explains Dr. Daniele Mandrioli, coordinator of the Global Glyphosate Study and director of the Ramazzini Institute.

A rare pathology, never observed on young specimens of the same rat species in the 20 years of studies conducted by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) in the USA and by the Ramazzini Institute in Italy.

3) What else?

While EFSA hesitates (3) and the EU forgets the precautionary principle, independent research continues to produce very worrying evidence on the population’s exposure to glyphosate.

A study pilot within the GGS had already shown endocrine and reproductive toxicity in rats at doses of glyphosate still considered ‘safe’ by regulatory agencies in the United States (1,75 mg/kg body weight/day). These findings were then confirmed in a human population of mothers and newborns exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy. (4)

Another job of GGS demonstrates that glyphosate and Roundup damage the intestinal microbiome even at doses previously believed to be safe and permitted in the EU. (5)

What else to wait for?

Marta Strinati


(1) Global Glyphosate Study: First Results from the Long-term Integrated Study. Ramazzini Institute. 25.10.2023

(2) Dario Dongo. Glyphosate, civil society denounces fraud in view of the ten-year renewal in the EU. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 3.10.2023

(3) Dario Dongo, Alessandra Mei. EFSA glosses over the safety risks of glyphosate. ‘Stop Glyphosate’! GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 22.7.2023

(4) Lesseur C, Pirrotte P, Pathak KV, Manservisi F, Mandrioli D, Belpoggi F, Panzacchi S, Li Q, Barrett ES, Nguyen RHN, Sathyanarayana S, Swan SH, Chen J. Maternal urinary levels of glyphosate during pregnancy and anogenital distance in newborns in a US multicenter pregnancy cohort. Environ Pollut. 2021 Jul 1;280:117002. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2021.117002. Epub 2021 Mar 22. PMID: 33812205; PMCID: PMC8165010.

(5) Dario Dongo, Fabrizio Adorni. Glyphosate damages the microbiome even at the doses allowed in the EU. Scientific study and application for renewal of authorization. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 15.12.2019

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Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".