It turns out that both the active and the inert ingredients in the world’s most common herbicides can produce antibiotic resistance. A team of researchers in New Zealand, building on their 2015 research that identified Roundup, 2,4-D, and dicamba as triggers for antibiotic-resistant Salmonella eterica and Escherichia coli, has found that this resistance occurred with doses below reasonable levels. According to the lead author of the study, Jack Heinemann, Ph.D., University Canterbury’s School of Biological Sciences,
The sub-lethal effects of industrially manufactured chemical products should be considered by regulators when deciding whether the products are safe for their intended use…These products are sold in the local hardware store and may be used without training, and there are no controls that prevent children and pets from being exposed in home gardens or parks. Despite their ubiquitous use… herbicides may be undermining the use of a fundamental medicine-antibiotics.”
To achieve these findings, scientists first exposed S. eterica to pure dicamba, glyphosate, and 2,4-D. The bacteria were then treated with select antibiotics. The inert ingredients polysorbate 80 and CMC were applied to both S. eterica and E. coli, and they were treated with the same group of antibiotics, ampicillin, chloramphenicol, ciprofloxacin, kanamycin, and tetracycline. The active ingredients had a more pronounced effect on the bacteria than the inert ingredients did, and the results, though varied, confirmed that these herbicides can lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
These Herbicides are Everywhere
So what does this mean in the current quest to solve antibiotic resistance? The current push by scientists and medical professionals to find answers to this issue focus on the excessive use of antibiotic in factory farming. But glyphosate is found in the urine of 93% of Americans, and this doesn’t take into account the other herbicides tested here. Is everything in our current food system designed to undermine our health? Have we gone too far to come back?
- WHO Says the World Will Run Out of Antibiotics Able to Treat Bacteria Superbugs – OLM
- Monsanto’s Roundup Causes Antibiotic Resistance—a Fact That’s Not Considered by Regulators – Alternet
- New research finds common herbicides cause antibiotic resistance – University of Canterbury