Skip to content

Common Pesticide Found In Human Semen

Sperm Credit: Wikipedia

Pesticides stick around in the environment and in humans. Thus, it shouldn't be a surprise that a recent study found the pesticide glyphosate in men's sperm.

Glyphosate (also known as Roundup) is the most commonly used herbicide (weed-killer) in the world. It is used on both genetically modified crops (Roundup Ready crops), as well as conventional crops. [It is not allowed to be used on organic crops.] This means we ingest glyphosate when we eat nonorganic foods, when we breathe air that is contaminated with glyphosate (from applying the product or from nearby applications), or we get it on our skin.

In the study, 128 men with fertility problems had their blood and seminal fluid analyzed. Glyphosate was detected in the blood of 72 of the men, and in these men glyphosate was also detected in the seminal fluid (semen). Surprisingly, glyphosate levels were 4 times higher in the seminal fluid than in the blood!

Smokers had blood and seminal plasma concentrations twice as high as non-smokers, and workers on farms had higher levels than non-farm jobs (e.g., transport, communication, finance). The person with the highest glyphosate concentration was a farmer. They also found that in this study there was no difference in the sperm concentration, movement, or shape/abnormal forms between men with or without glyphosate in the blood.

However, oxidative stress was shown to be higher in men with glyphosate in the blood and seminal fluid. Oxidative stress is known to have harmful effects on sperm (e.g., injures mitochondria, sperm dysfunction). Thus, the researchers concluded that glyphosate has a negative effect on male reproductive health.

To lower your glyphosate levels: Your levels can be reduced within days by switching to an organic diet. Also, don't use Roundup for weed control. If possible, use non-toxic alternatives in your yard (e.g, vinegar, boiling water, burn weeds with a Dragon torch, hand weed, or accept weeds as "wildflowers").

Excerpts from Beyond Pesticides: Presence Of Weed Killer Glyphosate In Human Sperm Elevates Debate On Pesticide Threats To Human Survival

study published in the most recent edition of the journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety documents for the first time the presence of the herbicide glyphosate in human sperm. The study looked at 128 French men with an average age of 36 years who tested positive for glyphosate in their blood.

Seventy-three out of the 128 men were found to also have glyphosate in their seminal plasma. Not only that, the amount of glyphosate in seminal plasma was nearly four times higher than what was detected in the blood.

The study involved a population of 128 infertile French men from whom seminal and blood plasma samples were collected. The study was conducted at the “Pole Santé Léonard de Vinci” medical center, located centrally near Tours, France. This region is recognized for its urban characteristics as well as being a major agricultural hub, particularly for grain and wine production. The study authors note, “This area reflects the common herbicide exposure in France” and the district ranks third highest in terms of pesticide purchases. While additional qualitative data was collected, only 47 of 128 participants fully completed a questionnaire about their profession, diet (organic or not), and smoking habits.

The study examined concentrations of glyphosate and its main metabolite, amino-methyl-phosphonic acid (AMPA), using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS-MS). Notably, while glyphosate was detected in significant proportions, AMPA was undetectable in the samples. The study also measured oxidative stress biomarkers, including malondialdehyde (MDA) and 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) techniques.

Glyphosate (GLY) was detected in the seminal plasma of the participants, with concentrations that were four times higher than those observed in blood plasma. In contrast, its main metabolite, amino-methyl-phosphonic acid (AMPA), was not detectable. There was a strong positive correlation between the concentrations of glyphosate in blood plasma and seminal plasma and the levels of 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), a marker of DNA damage due to oxidative stress. The study observed higher concentrations of Total Oxidant Status (TOS), Oxidative Stress Index (OSI) (which is the ratio of TOS to Total Antioxidant Status (TAS)), and malondialdehyde (MDA) in both blood and seminal plasma of men with detectable levels of glyphosate.

These findings suggest a negative impact of glyphosate on human reproductive health, potentially affecting sperm quality and oxidative stress levels, which could have implications for the progeny of the affected individuals. The study advocates for a precautionary approach in the ongoing discussions about the use of glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides in Europe.

These results add to the existing mountain of evidence regarding the harmful effects of glyphosate, the most commonly used pesticide in the world and known to many as Roundup™ and Rodeo™. Glyphosate causes DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells, resulting in the onset of chronic disease. It is considered an endocrine disruptor and patented as an antibiotic. It has been specifically linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and multiple myeloma. Beyond Pesticides has reported that exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) negatively impacts testicular function and may cause sperm count declines over time, according to a 2022 review published in Endocrine.

Glyphosate works by disrupting a crucial pathway (shikimate pathway) for manufacturing aromatic amino acids in plants—but not animals—and, therefore, many have assumed that it does not harm humans. However, it is lethal to bacteria that inhabit the human digestive tract and are essential for good health. Disturbing the gut’s microbiota can contribute to a whole host of “21st-century diseases,” including diabetes, obesity, food allergies, heart disease, antibiotic-resistant infections, cancer, asthma, autism, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and more. (See here and here ).

The rise in these same diseases is tightly correlated with the use of glyphosate, and glyphosate exposure can result in inflammation at the root of these diseases. Glyphosate use in agriculture rose 300-fold from 1974 to 2014, with nonagricultural uses increasing by 43-fold during the same time. Increasingly, target weeds are becoming resistant to the herbicide, creating superweeds, and genetically engineered (GE) crops are being created with genetic tolerance for numerous toxic herbicides, such as 2,4-D and dicamba. As Beyond Pesticides’ glyphosate factsheet reports, the greatest overall glyphosate use by acreage is in the Mississippi River basin where most applications are for weed control on GE corn, soybeans, and cotton, as well as other crops.

Plants treated with glyphosate translocate the systemic herbicide to their roots, growing points, and fruit, where it blocks the activity of the enzyme 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS), a key enzyme in the shikimate pathway of aromatic amino acid production, ultimately leading to the plant’s death by starvation. Because plants absorb glyphosate, it cannot be removed completely by washing or other food preparation. It persists in food products for up to two years.

“Inert” Ingredients

In addition to glyphosate, researchers have also determined that the “inert” ingredients in glyphosate products, especially polyethoxylated tallow amine (POEA), a surfactant commonly used in glyphosate and other herbicidal products, are even more toxic than glyphosate itself. The current study of French men was unable to determine if the co-formulants or even other pesticide exposure were contributing factors in their results.

But, previous studies have shown that many pesticides, including glyphosate products (e.g., Roundup™), are more toxic than glyphosate alone, and result in a number of chronic, developmental, and endocrine-disrupting impacts. The “inert” ingredients in Roundup™ formulations kill human cells at very low concentrations. At least some glyphosate-based products are genotoxic. POEA is extremely toxic to aquatic organisms. One study found that co-formulants account for more than 86% of Roundup™ toxicity observed in microalgae and crustaceans.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *