Tuesday, March 15, 2016
AGRIBUSINESS: FERTILIZERS AND FERTILITY IN MAN.
A recent study by scientists at the universities of Nottingham, Aberdeen (UK) and Paris-Saclay (France), The James Hutton Institute (Aberdeen) and UMR BDR, INRA, Jouy en Josas (Paris, France) and published in the journal Scientific Reports, has shown striking effects of exposure of pregnant ewes and their female lambs in the womb to a cocktail of chemical contaminants present in pastures fertilized with human sewage sludge-derived fertilizer. Eating meat from animals grazed on land treated with commonly-used agricultural fertilizers might have serious implications for pregnant women and the future reproductive health of their unborn children. The study highlights potential risks associated with the common practice of grazing livestock on pastures on which human sewage sludge-derived fertilizer has been used. While low-level chemical exposure poses a threat to human reproductive development but the consumption of products from animals grazing such pastures proves to be a considerable environmental concern. The research group investigated development of ovaries in the fetal sheep, which is very similar to ovary development in humans. The pregnant sheep was exposed to sewage sludge-derived fertilizer to simulate 'real-life' exposure. Since the number of eggs present in the ovary at birth is determined while still in the womb, the research shows that the implications of disrupted ovary development could be significant. It suggests that chemicals that interfere with this development process, particularly those that mimic sex steroids, may have long-lasting effects on adult female fertility. The researchers report that the number of eggs in the fetus' ovary was reduced even if the period of exposure was limited to 80 days corresponding to early, mid or late gestation. However, a period of mid or late gestation exposure had a greater effect on the development of the fetus and the number of altered genes and proteins in the fetus' ovary. The biggest effects on the fetal ovary were seen when the sheep were switched to sewage sludge fertilized fields in the last two to three months of pregnancy. This suggests that changing exposures to chemical mixtures may be worse than always being exposed to these mixtures. The role of the environment is spread of diseases and impact on health status can not be ignored ,hence steps to reduce contamination of sewage sludge-derived fertilizer are important and proper sanitation protocols must be enforced.