About this Research Topic
Glyphosate is the active ingredient of all glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) and is combined with other chemicals known as co-formulants that enhance the herbicide action. GBHs are the most widely applied pesticides in the world. GBH formulations are mainly used in association with GBH-tolerant crop varieties. Due to GBH indiscriminate and negligent use, glyphosate resistant weeds rapidly emerged and consequently, higher amounts of glyphosate are being applied to counteract them.
Alarmingly increased levels of glyphosate have been detected in different environmental matrices and foodstuff, making this herbicide a global concern. Even more worryingly, the assessment of the effects of glyphosate and GBH formulations concerning their endocrine disrupting properties and the carcinogenic potential by international regulatory agencies is surrounded by controversy. In addition to that, a high number of GBH formulations are available in the market whose co-formulant composition is not disclosed. The effects between distinct GBH formulations and/or pure glyphosate can differ.
This Research Topic aims to analyze the state of the art regarding the herbicide glyphosate with emphasis on its potential as an endocrine disrupter compound and a probable human carcinogen. Numerous reports demonstrating endocrine-related effects of the herbicide in different models of study and endpoints have been accumulating since the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the European Food Safety Authority stated that there was not enough evidence to support such effects. Both glyphosate alone and its commercial formulations affect endocrine-related targets in in vitro assays and in male and female tissues with serious implications on reproductive and neuroendocrine functions. The herbicide impairs the normal organ development and physiology with potential adverse consequences in adult life which could predispose to certain hormone-dependent diseases.
Interestingly, multi-generational effects in different models of exposure have been observed and epigenetic mechanisms could be involved in the alterations induced by the herbicide. On the other hand, while the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC, 2015) from the World Health Organization identified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen, EFSA concluded that the herbicide does not prove to be carcinogenic or mutagenic. Given these controversies, further research in this field is imperative along with a deep review of the background that has emerged in recent years.
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