GM herbicide "can hamper the development and activity of the brain" (7/12/2004)

The glufosinate herbicide, used in large quantities on Bayer's GM herbicide-resistant crops, has been found to have adverse effects on the brain.

The Japan Times, 7 December 2004

Yoichiro Kuroda, the principal investigator in a project titled the Effects of Endocrine Disrupters on the Developing Brain, under the government's CREST (Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology) program, believes polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and glufosinate can hamper the development and activity of the brain.

PCBs are "mock hormones" -- endocrine disrupters that cause neural development defects by disrupting gene functions and neural-network formation in kids -- resulting in lower IQ scores and hyperactive tendencies, he said.

Glufosinate, widely used in the U.S. as a super herbicide for herbicide-resistant genetically modified crops, is like a "mock neurotransmitter" that has an aggressive effect on brains, he said.

If an embryo or a baby is exposed to the chemical, it can affect behavior, as it disturbs gene functions that regulate the developing brain, he said.

A decade ago, the late Toshiko Fujii, a one-time professor of medicine at Teikyo University, conducted research in which she found that the main component of this GMO-compatible herbicide had adverse effects on the brains of baby rats.

"Male rats often fight one another, but female rats are peaceful," Kuroda said in explaining Fujii's research.

"But female rats born from mothers that were given high doses of glufosinate became aggressive and started to bite each other -- in some cases until one died. That report sent a chill through me."

He said there is a considerable possibility that fetuses and babies are also affected by the substance, and since it is widely assumed that males are more aggressive to begin with, it is possible they are more affected than females.

"The chemical industry has not been considering this kind of risk on the developing human brain, which is a fragile, fine chemical machine," he said.

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