Effects Of Glyphosate On Living Organisms

853 words - 3 pages

Effects of Glyphosate on Living OrganismsGlyphosate is a type of broad spectrum, non-selective systemic herbicide. In other words it kills all plant types. However it is mostly targeted at types of weeds like grasses and deep rooted woody plants. It is the most widely used herbicide in the US in treating crops, forests, bodies of water, and public and private yards.Its molecular formula is C3H8NO5P with a structure of:This chemical has multiple derivates, forms, and names such as N-phosphonomethyl glycine, monoisopropylammonium salt, sesquisodium salt. The most popular marketed trade name is RoundUp introduced in 1976. However, since then a wide variety of brands arose such as Kleenup, Poledom, Rodeo, Spasor, Sting, Touchdown, and Tumbleweed.The way glyphosate works is that it is applied onto the leaves of the targeted plant. It is then absorbed into the leaves through the stomata. It can also enter through soft tissues in the stalk because it doesn't have a thick layer of cellulose. It is then transported throughout the plant interfering with the shikimic acid pathway. More specifically, it prevents the synthesis of important amino acids phenylalanine, tyrosine and tryptophan by binding to and blocking 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS). This enzyme is important because it catalyzes the chemical reaction between shikimate-3-phosphate (S3P) and phosphoenolpyruvate which creates 5-enolpyruvyl-shikimate-3-phosphate (ESP). ESP is turned into chorismate which is essentially a precursor for the 3 already mentioned amino acids. Without these amino acids, the plant will lose its ability to synthesize vitamins, chlorophyll, and enzymes; produce essential hormones; and regulate water levels of plants. Since the chemical is not easily metabolized or eliminated from the plant, it remains in the plant until it reaches the target site (EPSPS). Disruption of the plant's crucial biochemical pathway results in the collapse of the whole plant. That being said, commercial crops can be genetically engineered with a gene that prevents fatality upon exposure to this chemical, so in crop fields only the desired plant will flourish while others die off when glyphosate is present.Benefits of glyphosate are that it is relatively low in acute toxicity to other organisms compared to other competing products. In other words since it targets the shikimic acid pathway, a process only present in plants, it will not kill off animals that may be exposed to it. Researchers conducted experiments on exposing this chemical to different animals. Dogs showed no adverse effects, while in rabbits it may cause eye irritation and in mice, high doses of glyphosate resulted in lower weight gain. In addition, glyphosate has the ability to bind to the soil and free glyphosate molecules will eventually be broken down by surrounding...

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