Roundup Linked to Mysterious Kidney Epidemic


Oct 17, 2023

Roundup Linked to Mysterious Kidney Epidemic

Roundup's Glyphosate Linked to Sri Lanka's Mysterious Kidney Disease Epidemic

The Glyphosate Connection in Sri Lanka's CKDu Crisis

In the rural landscapes of Sri Lanka, a kidney disease of unknown etiology—known as CKDu—has been silently ravaging communities for decades. What's staggering is that this isn't just a localized issue. Similar occurrences of mysterious kidney diseases have struck tropical farming regions worldwide. Until recently, the root cause of this epidemic remained shrouded in mystery. However, a groundbreaking study published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters reveals a potential culprit: glyphosate, the active compound in the globally popular herbicide Roundup.

The Evidence

The investigation, led by researchers at Duke University, delved deep into the wells that supply drinking water to afflicted communities. Their findings are startling: glyphosate, which is supposed to degrade in the environment within weeks, can form long-lasting compounds when it interacts with certain metal ions found in hard water. These glyphosate-metal ion complexes have been discovered to persist for up to seven years in water and 22 years in soil. This prolonged lifespan poses a disturbing implication for the health of these communities.

The Chemistry Behind the Crisis

"Glyphosate was believed to be environmentally benign, but our study suggests it can form complexes with ions like calcium and magnesium that occur naturally in hard water," - Nishad Jayasundara, the lead researcher.

These hard-water conditions are prevalent in areas where CKDu has become epidemic. Hence, the likelihood of people consuming water contaminated with glyphosate in these regions is significantly high.

Data that Tells the Story

The study involved sampling more than 200 wells in four different regions of Sri Lanka, using high-resolution tandem mass spectrometry—a technique that identifies trace contaminants by their molecular weight. The results were eye-opening: 44% of wells in CKDu-affected areas had significantly higher levels of glyphosate, compared to just 8% in non-affected regions.

What's Next: Broadening the Scope

While the glyphosate link is a pivotal discovery, it's essential to note that other contaminants, like fluoride and vanadium, were also found at elevated levels in the affected communities. These substances are likewise known to cause kidney damage.

"This necessitates further investigation into how these contaminants may be interacting with each other and contributing to CKDu," said Lee Ferguson, environmental chemist and part of the Duke research team.

Implications for Global Public Health

Glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides worldwide. The discoveries made in this study should serve as a cautionary tale for other regions, including the United States, where hard water is common. The enduring nature of glyphosate in certain environmental conditions suggests that current regulatory standards may be inadequate.

Concluding Thoughts

This research offers a substantive step forward in solving the mystery of CKDu in Sri Lanka and potentially other farming communities globally. It also raises serious questions about the long-term environmental impact of glyphosate, urging global authorities to re-evaluate its safety profile. In an age where we can't afford to ignore the intricate relationships between our environment and health, this research serves as both a revelation and a warning.

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About the Author

Rich Foreman brings over 30 years of technology leadership to his role of CEO and Co-Founder of KidneySoft.  As founding CTO, Rich led the team that developed the CordicoShield / CordicoFire Wellness App. Cordico was honored with the Sacramento Innovation Award in 2021. After achieving a 7 digit ARR, Cordico was acquired by Lexipol in 2020. Rich has a BS in Industrial Engineering from the University of Washington, an MPA from Troy State University and was an officer in the U.S. Navy. Rich co-authored his book, "Tap into the Mobile Economy." Rich's blog was listed in Top 20 Marketing Mobile Blogs of 2014. He has been featured on KCRA3, NEWS10, 1170 Tech AM PowerDrive, Business Radio Money 105.5, SiliconIndia, the Sacramento Business Journal, and the Sacramento Bee. Rich is also the Founding Director of the Sacramento Chapter of Startup Grind and served a term as Utility Commissioner for the City of Folsom. Rich is a regular contributor to and StartupSac. Rich was the Co-founder of Apptology which was named Small Business of the Year in 2014 by the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber. He was also the Founding Chief Technology Officer at Cordico. Cordico was acquired by Lexipol in 2020.  Rich also served 4 years as a Naval Officer in the Civil Engineer Corps.

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