Project Bibliography

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Linhart et al., 2021

Linhart, Caroline, Panzacchi, Simona, Belpoggi, Fiorella, Clausing, Peter, Zaller, Johann G., & Hertoge, Koen; “Year-round pesticide contamination of public sites near intensively managed agricultural areas in South Tyrol;” Environmental Sciences Europe, 2021, 33(1); DOI: 10.1186/s12302-020-00446-y.


BACKGROUND: In a previous study, we found that 45% of public playgrounds near intensively managed agricultural areas were contaminated with mainly endocrine active pesticide residues in spring. Here, we investigated potential contamination over the course of a year.

METHODS: Residue data were analyzed from 96 grass samples collected in spring, summer, autumn, and winter by the South Tyrolean Medical Service in 19 public playgrounds, four schoolyards, and one marketplace located within intensively managed agricultural landscapes. Samples were analyzed for 281 substances using gas-chromatography and mass-spectrometry.

RESULTS: A total of 32 pesticide residues and one preservative agent were found. Almost all of the sites (96%) were contaminated with at least one residue during the year; in 79% of the sites, more than one residue was found. Among the detected residues, 76% are classified as endocrine active substances, with the highest concentrations of the insecticide chlorpyrifos-methyl (0.71 mg kg−1), the herbicide oxadiazon (0.64 mg kg−1), and the fungicides captan (0.46 mg kg−1) and fluazinam (0.23 mg kg−1). The number of residues, their concentrations, and the proportion of contaminated sites varied across seasons (p < 0.001). Twenty-five residues were found in 83% of the sites in spring (median concentration 0.240 mg kg−1), nine in 79% of the sites in summer (0.092 mg kg−1), three in 50% of the sites in autumn (0.076 mg kg−1), and four in 17% of the sites in winter (0.155 mg kg−1). Playgrounds already examined in 2017 in the previous study, were more often contaminated with multiple pesticide residues in 2018 (p = 0.045).

CONCLUSION: This study confirms previous findings of widespread pesticide contamination of public sites within intensively managed agricultural areas. Moreover, pesticide residues were also found in periods with little or no pesticide application in the field (autumn and winter). It is worrisome that many of the detected residues are endocrine active substances and that some of them (thiacloprid, bupirimate, captan, folpet) are “suspected human carcinogens”, according to EU authorities. Thus, we call for more effective controls of pesticide applications to minimize pesticide drift into public places. FULL TEXT

Mesnage et al., 2021

Mesnage, R, Teixeira, M, Mandrioli, D., Falcioni, L., Ducarmon, QR, Zwittink, RD, Mazzacuva, F, Caldwell, A, Halket, J, Amiel, C., Panoff, J. , Belpoggi, F., & Antoniou, MN; “Use of shotgun metagenomics and metabolomics to evaluate the impact of glyphosate or Roundup MON 52276 on the gut microbiota and serum metabolome of Sprague-Dawley rats;” Environmental Health Perspectives, 2021 (in press); DOI: 10.1289/EHP6990.


BACKGROUND: There is intense debate on whether glyphosate can inhibit the shikimate pathway of gastrointestinal microorganisms, with potential health implications.

OBJECTIVES: We tested whether glyphosate or its representative EU herbicide formulation Roundup MON 52276 affects the rat gut microbiome.

METHODS: We combined cecal microbiome shotgun metagenomics with serum and cecum metabolomics to assess the effects of glyphosate [0.5, 50, 175 mg=kg body weight (BW) per day] or MON 52276 at the same glyphosate-equivalent doses, in a 90-d toxicity test in rats.

RESULTS: Glyphosate and MON 52276 treatment resulted in ceca accumulation of shikimic acid and 3-dehydroshikimic acid, suggesting inhibition of 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase of the shikimate pathway in the gut microbiome. Cysteinylglycine, γ-glutamylglutamine, and valylglycine levels were elevated in the cecal microbiome following glyphosate and MON 52276 treatments. Altered cecum metabolites were not differentially expressed in serum, suggesting that the glyphosate and MON 52276 impact on gut microbial metabolism had limited consequences on physiological biochemistry. Serum metabolites differentially expressed with glyphosate treatment were associated with nicotinamide, branched-chain amino acid, methionine, cysteine, and taurine metabolism, indicative of a response to oxidative stress. MON 52276 had similar, but more pronounced, effects than glyphosate on the serum metabolome. Shotgun metagenomics of the cecum showed that treatment with glyphosate and MON 52276 resulted in higher levels of Eggerthella spp., Shinella zoogleoides, Acinetobacter johnsonii, and Akkermansia muciniphila. Shinella zoogleoides was higher only with MON 52276 exposure. In vitro culture assays with Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus strains showed that Roundup GT plus inhibited growth at concentrations at which MON 52276 and glyphosate had no effect.

DISCUSSION: Our study highlights the power of multi-omics approaches to investigate the toxic effects of pesticides. Multi-omics revealed that glyphosate and MON 52276 inhibited the shikimate pathway in the rat gut microbiome. Our findings could be used to develop biomarkers for epidemiological studies aimed at evaluating the effects of glyphosate herbicides on humans FULL TEXT.

Perry et al., 2019

Perry, M. J., Mandrioli, D., Belpoggi, F., Manservisi, F., Panzacchi, S., & Irwin, C.; “Historical evidence of glyphosate exposure from a US agricultural cohort;” Environmental Health, 2019, 18(1), 42; DOI: 10.1186/s12940-019-0474-6.


In response to the recent review by Gillezeau et al., The evidence of human exposure to glyphosate: A review, Environmental Health 1/19/19, here we report additional glyphosate biomonitoring data from a repository of urine samples collected from United States farmers in 1997-98. To determine if glyphosate exposure could be identified historically, we examined urine samples from a biorepository of specimens collected from US dairy farmers between 1997 and 98. We compared samples from farmers who self-reported glyphosate application in the 8 h prior to sample collection to samples from farm applicators who did not report using glyphosate. Of 18 applicator samples tested, 39% showed detectable levels of glyphosate (mean concentration 4.04 mug/kg; range:1.3-12) compared to 0% detections among 17 non glyphosate applicator samples (p-value < 0.01). One of the applicator samples that tested positive for glyphosate also tested positive for AMPA. Concentrations of glyphosate were consistent with levels reported in the prior occupational biomonitoring studies reviewed by Gillezeau et al.Accurately detecting both glyphosate and AMPA in this small sample of Wisconsin farmers demonstrates a) glyphosate exposures among farmers were occurring 20 years ago, which was prior to the widespread planting of genetically engineered glyphosate tolerant crops first approved in 1996; and b) liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) can be used for sensitive characterization in cryopreserved urine samples. These data offer an important historical benchmark to which urinary levels from current and future biomonitoring studies can be compared. FULL TEXT

Soffritti et al., 2002

Soffritti, Morando, Belpoggi, Fiorella, Minardi, Franco, & Maltoni, Cesare; “Ramazzini Foundation Cancer Program: History and Major Projects, Life-Span Carcinogenicity Bioassay Design, Chemicals Studied, and Results;” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2002, 982, 26-45.


The Ramazzini Foundation research program was started over thirty years ago. The features of this program are: (1) systematic and integrated project design; (2) consistency over time; (3) homogeneity of approach: key members of the team remain unchanged; and (4) choice to work on new frontiers of scientific research. The program centers mainly on three projects: Project 1: experimental carcinogenicity bioassays; Project 2: experimental anticarcinogenesis assays to identify factors and active principles (compounds) capable of opposing the onset of tumors while being suitable for preventive/ chemopreventive intervention; Project 3: epidemiological studies, both descriptive and analytical, on tumor incidence and mortality in persons professionally and environmentally exposed to industrial carcinogenic risks. The project involving experimental carcinogenicity bioassays for the identification of exogenous carcinogens (environmental and industrial above all) began in 1966. This project has included 398 experimental bioassays on 200 compounds/ agents using some 148,000 animals monitored until their spontaneous death. Among the studies already concluded, 47 agents have shown “clear evidence” of carcinogenicity. The results have demonstrated for the first time that (1) vinyl chloride can cause liver angiosarcoma as well as other tumors; (2) benzene is carcinogenic in experimental animals for various tissues and organs; (3) formaldehyde may produce lymphomas and leukemias; and (4) methyl-tertbutyl ether (MTBE), the most common oxygenated additive used in gasolines, can cause lymphomas/leukemias. Many of the results achieved have led to the introduction of norms and measures of primary prevention. FULL TEXT

Manservisi et al., 2019

Manservisi, Fabiana, Lesseur, Corina, Panzacchi, Simona, Mandrioli, Daniele, Falcioni, Laura, Bua, Luciano, Manservigi, Marco, Spinaci, Marcella, Galeati, Giovanna, Mantovani, Alberto, Lorenzetti, Stefano, Miglio, Rossella, Andrade, Anderson Martino, Kristensen, David Møbjerg, Perry, Melissa J., Swan, Shanna H., Chen, Jia, & Belpoggi, Fiorella. “The Ramazzini Institute 13-week pilot study glyphosate-based herbicides administered at human-equivalent dose to Sprague Dawley rats: effects on development and endocrine system,” Environmental Health, 2019, 18(1). DOI:10.1186/s12940-019-0453-y.


BACKGROUND: Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) are broad-spectrum herbicides that act on the shikimate pathway in bacteria, fungi, and plants. The possible effects of GBHs on human health are the subject of an intense public debate for both its potential carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic effects, including potential effects on the endocrine system The present pilot study examine whether exposure to GBHs at the dose of glyphosate considered to be “safe” (the US Acceptable Daily Intake – ADI – of 1.75 mg/kg bw/day), starting from in utero life, affect the development and endocrine system across different life stages in Sprague Dawley (SD) rats.

METHODS: Glyphosate alone and Roundup Bioflow, a commercial brand of GBHs, were administered in drinking water at 1.75 mg/kg bw/day to F0 dams starting from the gestational day (GD) 6 (in utero) up to postnatal day (PND) 120. After weaning, offspring were randomly distributed in two cohorts: 8 M + 8F/group animals belonging to the 6-week cohort were sacrificed after puberty at PND 73 ± 2; 10 M + 10F/group animals belonging to the 13-week cohort were sacrificed at adulthood at PND 125 ± 2. Effects of glyphosate or Roundup exposure were assessed on developmental landmarks and sexual characteristics of pups.

RESULTS: In pups, anogenital distance (AGD) at PND 4 was statistically significantly increased both in Roundup treated males and females and in glyphosate-treated males. Age at first estrous (FE) was significantly delayed in the Roundup-exposed group and serum testosterone concentration significantly increased in Roundup-treated female offspring from the 13-week cohort compared to control animals. A statistically significant increase in plasma TSH concentration was observed in glyphosate-treated males compared with control animals as well as a statistically significant decrease in DHT and increase in BDNF in Roundup-treated males. Hormonal status imbalances were more pronounced in Roundup-treated rats after prolonged exposure.

CONCLUSIONS: The present pilot study demonstrate that GBHs exposure, from prenatal period to adulthood, induced endocrine effects and altered reproductive developmental parameters in male and female SD rats. In particular, it was associated with androgen-like effects, including a statistically significant increase of AGDs in both males and females, delay of FE and increased testosterone in female. FULL TEXT

Panzacchi et al., 2018

Panzacchi, S., Mandrioli, D., Manservisi, F., Bua, L., Falcioni, L., Spinaci, M., Galeati, G., Dinelli, G., Miglio, R., Mantovani, A., Lorenzetti, S., Hu, J., Chen, J., Perry, M. J., Landrigan, P. J., & Belpoggi, F. “The Ramazzini Institute 13-week study on glyphosate-based herbicides at human-equivalent dose in Sprague Dawley rats: study design and first in-life endpoints evaluation,” Environmental Health, 17(1), 52, 2018.  doi:10.1186/s12940-018-0393-y.


BACKGROUND: Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) are the most widely used pesticides worldwide, and glyphosate is the active ingredient of such herbicides, including the formulation known as Roundup. The massive and increasing use of GBHs results in not only the global burden of occupational exposures, but also increased exposure to the general population. The current pilot study represents the first phase of a long-term investigation of GBHs that we are conducting over the next 5 years. In this paper, we present the study design, the first evaluation of in vivo parameters and the determination of glyphosate and its major metabolite aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) in urine.

METHODS: We exposed Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats orally via drinking water to a dose of glyphosate equivalent to the United States Acceptable Daily Intake (US ADI) of 1.75 mg/kg bw/day, defined as the chronic Reference Dose (cRfD) determined by the US EPA, starting from prenatal life, i.e. gestational day (GD) 6 of their mothers. One cohort was continuously dosed until sexual maturity (6-week cohort) and another cohort was continuously dosed until adulthood (13-week cohort). Here we present data on general toxicity and urinary concentrations of glyphosate and its major metabolite AMPA.

RESULTS: Survival, body weight, food and water consumption of the animals were not affected by the treatment with either glyphosate or Roundup. The concentration of both glyphosate and AMPA detected in the urine of SD rats treated with glyphosate were comparable to that observed in animals treated with Roundup, with an increase in relation to the duration of treatment. The majority of glyphosate was excreted unchanged. Urinary levels of the parent compound, glyphosate, were around 100-fold higher than the level of its metabolite, AMPA.

CONCLUSIONS: Glyphosate concentrations in urine showed that most part of the administered dose was excreted as unchanged parent compound upon glyphosate and Roundup exposure, with an increasing pattern of glyphosate excreted in urine in relation to the duration of treatment. The adjuvants and the other substances present in Roundup did not seem to exert a major effect on the absorption and excretion of glyphosate. Our results demonstrate that urinary glyphosate is a more relevant marker of exposure than AMPA in the rodent model. FULL TEXT

Mao et al., 2018

Mao, Q., Manservisi, F., Panzacchi, S., Mandrioli, D., Menghetti, I., Vornoli, A., Bua, L., Falcioni, L., Lesseur, C., Chen, J., Belpoggi, F., & Hu, J., “The Ramazzini Institute 13-week pilot study on glyphosate and Roundup administered at human-equivalent dose to Sprague Dawley rats: effects on the microbiome,” Environmental Health, 17(1), 50, 2018. doi:10.1186/s12940-018-0394-x.


BACKGROUND: Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) are broad-spectrum herbicides that act on the shikimate pathway in bacteria, fungi, and plants. The possible effects of GBHs on human health are the subject of an intense public debate for both its potential carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic effects, including its effects on microbiome. The present pilot study examines whether exposure to GBHs at doses of glyphosate considered to be “safe” (the US Acceptable Daily Intake – ADI – of 1.75 mg/kg bw/day), starting from in utero, may modify the composition of gut microbiome in Sprague Dawley (SD) rats.

METHODS: Glyphosate alone and Roundup, a commercial brand of GBHs, were administered in drinking water at doses comparable to the US glyphosate ADI (1.75 mg/kg bw/day) to F0 dams starting from the gestational day (GD) 6 up to postnatal day (PND) 125. Animal feces were collected at multiple time points from both F0 dams and F1 pups. The gut microbiota of 433 fecal samples were profiled at V3-V4 region of 16S ribosomal RNA gene and further taxonomically assigned and assessed for diversity analysis. We tested the effect of exposure on overall microbiome diversity using PERMANOVA and on individual taxa by LEfSe analysis.

RESULTS: Microbiome profiling revealed that low-dose exposure to Roundup and glyphosate resulted in significant and distinctive changes in overall bacterial composition in F1 pups only. Specifically, at PND31, corresponding to pre-pubertal age in humans, relative abundance for Bacteriodetes (Prevotella) was increased while the Firmicutes (Lactobacillus) was reduced in both Roundup and glyphosate exposed F1 pups compared to controls.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides initial evidence that exposures to commonly used GBHs, at doses considered safe, are capable of modifying the gut microbiota in early development, particularly before the onset of puberty. These findings warrant future studies on potential health effects of GBHs in early development such as childhood. FULL TEXT

Landrigan and Belpoggi, 2018

Landrigan, P. J., and Belpoggi, F.,”The need for independent research on the health effects of glyphosate-based herbicides,” Environmental Health, 17(1), 51, 2018, doi:10.1186/s12940-018-0392-z.


BACKGROUND: Glyphosate, formulated as Roundup, is the world’s most widely used herbicide. Glyphosate is used extensively on genetically modified (GM) food crops designed to tolerate the herbicide, and global use is increasing rapidly. Two recent reviews of glyphosate’s health hazards report conflicting results. An independent review by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found that glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen”. A review by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) found no evidence of carcinogenic hazard. These differing findings have produced regulatory uncertainty.

REGULATORY ACTIONS: Reflecting this regulatory uncertainty, the European Commission on November 27 2017, extended authorization for glyphosate for another 5 years, while the European Parliament opposed this decision and issued a call that pesticide approvals be based on peer-reviewed studies by independent scientists rather than on the current system that relies on proprietary industry studies.

RAMAZZINI INSTITUTE RESPONSE: The Ramazzini Institute has initiated a pilot study of glyphosate’s health hazards that will be followed by an integrated experimental research project. This evaluation will be independent of industry support and entirely sponsored by worldwide crowdfunding. The aim of the Ramazzini Institute project is to explore comprehensively the effects of exposures to glyphosate-based herbicides at current real-world levels on several toxicological endpoints, including carcinogenicity, long-term toxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine disrupting effects, prenatal developmental toxicity, the microbiome and multi-generational effects. FULL TEXT

Portier et al., 2016

Christopher J Portier, Bruce K Armstrong, Bruce C Baguley, Xaver Baur, Igor Belyaev, Robert Bellé, Fiorella Belpoggi, Annibale Biggeri, Maarten C Bosland, Paolo Bruzzi, Lygia Therese Budnik, Merete D Bugge, Kathleen Burns, Gloria M Calaf, David O Carpenter, Hillary M Carpenter, Lizbeth López-Carrillo, Richard Clapp, Pierluigi Cocco, Dario Consonni, Pietro Comba, Elena Craft, Mohamed Aqiel Dalvie, Devra Davis, Paul A Demers, Anneclaire J De Roos, Jamie DeWitt, Francesco Forastiere, Jonathan H Freedman, Lin Fritschi, Caroline Gaus, Julia M Gohlke, Marcel Goldberg, Eberhard Greiser, Johnni Hansen, Lennart Hardell, Michael Hauptmann, Wei Huang, James Huff, Margaret O James, C W Jameson, Andreas Kortenkamp, Annette Kopp-Schneider, Hans Kromhout, Marcelo L Larramendy, Philip J Landrigan, Lawrence H Lash, Dariusz Leszczynski, Charles F Lynch, Corrado Magnani, Daniele Mandrioli, Francis L Martin, Enzo Merler, Paola Michelozzi, Lucia Miligi, Anthony B Miller, Dario Mirabelli, Franklin E Mirer, Saloshni Naidoo, Melissa J Perry, Maria Grazia Petronio, Roberta Pirastu, Ralph J Portier, Kenneth S Ramos, Larry W Robertson, Theresa Rodriguez, Martin Röösli, Matt K Ross, Deodutta Roy, Ivan Rusyn, Paulo Saldiva, Jennifer Sass, Kai Savolainen, Paul T J Scheepers, Consolato Sergi, Ellen K Silbergeld, Martyn T Smith, Bernard W Stewart, Patrice Sutton, Fabio Tateo, Benedetto Terracini, Heinz W Thielmann, David B Thomas, Harri Vainio, John E Vena, Paolo Vineis, Elisabete Weiderpass, Dennis D Weisenburger, Tracey J Woodruff, Takashi Yorifuji, Il Je Yu, Paola Zambon, Hajo Zeeb,Shu-Feng Zhou, “Differences in the carcinogenic evaluation of glyphosate between the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA),” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2016, 0:0, DOI: 10.1136/JECH-2015-207005.


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