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Coeliac disease: Recent paper attempting to link glyphosate to the increased prevalence of coeliac disease is not credible

© iStockphoto.com/ ivanmateev

A recent paper published by Samsel and Seneff attempts to outline possible causal connections between the use of glyphosate and numerous intestinal conditions including coeliac disease.

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder caused by the adverse reaction of the immune system to gluten, a protein fraction present in wheat flour. The ingestion of products made from wheat flour by those suffering from coeliac disease causes damage to the small intestine, leading to a range of symptoms including abdominal pain, weight loss and anemia.

The paper in question attempts to establish the use of glyphosate in agriculture as a causal factor linked to the increased prevalence of coeliac disease worldwide. However, it is important to note that the paper is not based on a scientific study and that its claims are not grounded in or backed up by scientific evidence.

Although the paper appears to have a high level of scientific content and a large number of references, the authors’ approach is based on weakly-supported hypothetical relationships. The paper therefore provides no new data and is of insufficient scientific quality to provide any useful information related to the safety of glyphosate.

Moreover, in attempting to link glyphosate to the increased incidence of coeliac disease, the authors do not consider similar hypothetical causation theories which could also be established with a wide variety of other factors.

More realistic hypotheses for the rise in coeliac disease include an increase of gluten present in the modern diet or the “hygiene theory” (which argues that people living in westernized societies now only have limited exposure to bacteria which can help to strengthen their immune systems.)

 

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Last update: 19 November 2014