People exposed to herbicides require more antibiotics to kill bacteria, according to new research published in mBio
Antibiotics and herbicides, as it turns out, don’t mix. At least that’s the conclusion of a study published today in mBio, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Society for Microbiology, which found that if someone is exposed to both herbicides and antibiotics at the same time, higher doses of antibiotics will likely be needed to kill the offending bacteria.
It’s the first study of the effect of herbicides on antibiotics, and its findings could have implications for antibiotics resistance. The growing risk of disease from antibiotic-resistant pathogens is a huge public health concern, one that was recently prioritized by both the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control.
According to Jack Heinemann, the study’s lead author, policy makers and researchers should look at multiple factors, not just over-use of antibiotics, in fighting antibiotics resistance. In addition, as more genetically modified crops are planted, use of herbicides is expected to increase.
“The countries that are growing GM crops at scale may wish to include these unanticipated effects on microbes in their evaluations,” Heinemann said.
The study comes a week after glyphosate, an agricultural herbicide produced by Monsanto and more commonly known as RoundUp, was deemed “probably carcinogenic” by the World Health Organization.