News Release: Pets Are Focus of New Study on Toxic Glyphosate Exposure

For Immediate Release
May 8, 2018
Contact: 641-552-6258, x12

Pets Are Focus of New Study on Toxic Glyphosate Exposure

Citizen science study seeks answers about herbicide that

FDA warns may cause digestive or intestinal problems

Fairfield, IA – A new study investigating pet exposure to the herbicide glyphosate launched today.  The outcome of the study could help owners protect their pets from this toxin.
The FDA writes on its website that, “Pets may be at risk of digestive or intestinal problems if they touch or eat plants that have just been sprayed.”1 Recent studies on humans also show correlations between glyphosate exposure and shortened pregnancy length2 (an indicator of newborn health) as well as fatty liver disease3.
The citizen science study, led by Health Research Institute, seeks to identify the largest sources of glyphosate exposure for pets. “Pets are lower to the ground, their paws are unprotected, and their foods are often full of ingredients grown with the use of glyphosate, so I am concerned about their exposure,” said Dr. Karen Becker, a veterinarian known for her Healthy Pets blog.
“In a pilot study, we noticed that dogs’ glyphosate levels were, on average, 50 times higher than people’s. Recent biomedical research suggests harm to health at these levels, and even lower,” said Dr. John Fagan, Chief Scientist at Health Research Institute (HRI) and a former researcher at the National Institutes of Health. HRI is a non-profit, independent laboratory based in Iowa.
“We decided to initiate a citizen science research project where we can work together with concerned pet owners to find out why pets have such high exposure to this toxin,” continued Dr. Fagan.
Dr. Fagan recently collaborated with Dr. Paul Mills of University of California San Diego on research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) which found that glyphosate levels in people have increased 500% over the last 20 years.4
Health Research Institute is also collaborating with people all over North America in citizen science research on human exposure to glyphosate. More than 1000 people have submitted urine samples for testing and completed a survey regarding diet and life style. The study aims to understand the levels of glyphosate exposure and the routes by which people are exposed to this toxin.
HRI has also detected glyphosate in varying amounts in a wide variety of foods. For instance, non-organic wheat, oats and chick peas are significant sources of dietary exposure because these crops frequently are sprayed with glyphosate prior to harvest. Since these crops are common ingredients in kibble and pet snacks, pet owners who collaborate in the new study will be asked about the types of food that they feed their animals.
Pet owners throughout North America are able to become collaborators in this citizen science research project by requesting a collection kit, sending a sample of their pet’s urine to Health Research Institute, and completing an on-line survey about their pet’s diet, health, and life style. As a citizen science study, each participant covers the cost of testing their own pet’s urine.
The citizen science movement makes it possible to carry out rigorous scientific research on topics that are not necessarily of interest to corporations and government agencies that typically fund most research. In the case of pet and human exposure to glyphosate, it enables a much larger and more diverse set of data to be obtained and evaluated. More details on the study are available at https://hrilabs.org/animalstudy/.
Glyphosate, is the most widely used herbicide in North America and around the world. It is the active ingredient in RoundUp®, Ortho GroundClear®, Compare-N-Save® and other herbicide brands used on farms, lawns, and many community outdoor spaces where pets are active. About 300 million pounds of glyphosate are applied each year in the U.S. alone.5
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1 – https://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/Pesticides/ucm583713.htm as of March 20, 2018
2 – Parvez, S. et al, “Glyphosate exposure in pregnancy and shortened gestational length: a prospective Indiana birth cohort study,” Environmental Health Journal, 17:23, March 2018.
3 – Mesnage, R. et al, “Multiomics reveal non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in rats following chronic exposure to an ultra-low dose of Roundup herbicide,” Nature.com/ Scientific Reports volume 7, Article number: 39328, Jan. 2017.
4 – Mills, P., et al, “Excretion of the Herbicide Glyphosate in Older Adults Between 1993 and 2016,” JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association 318(16):1610, October 2017.
5 – Main, Douglas, “Glyphosate Now the Most-Used Agricultural Chemical Ever,” Newsweek, Feb. 2, 2016.