Are glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides endocrine disruptors that alter female fertility?

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2020 Dec 1;518:110934. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2020.110934. Epub 2020 Jul 10.


Numerous evidences have alerted on the toxic effects of the exposure to glyphosate on living organisms. Glyphosate is the herbicide most used in crops such as maize and soybean worldwide, which implies that several non-target species are at a high risk of exposure. Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA-USA) has reaffirmed that glyphosate is safe for users, there are controversial studies that question this statement. Some of the reported effects are due to exposure to high doses; however, recent evidences have shown that exposure to low doses could also alter the development of the female reproductive tract, with consequences on fertility. Different animal models of exposure to glyphosate or glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) have shown that the effects on the female reproductive tract may be related to the potential and/or mechanisms of actions of an endocrine-disrupting compound. Studies have also demonstrated that the exposure to GBHs alters the development and differentiation of ovarian follicles and uterus, affecting fertility when animals are exposed before puberty. In addition, exposure to GBHs during gestation could alter the development of the offspring (F1 and F2). The main mechanism described associated with the endocrine-disrupting effect of GBHs is the modulation of estrogen receptors and molecules involved in the estrogenic pathways. This review summarizes the endocrine-disrupting effects of exposure to glyphosate and GBHs at low or "environmentally relevant" doses in the female reproductive tissues. Data suggesting that, at low doses, GBHs may have adverse effects on the female reproductive tract fertility are discussed.

Keywords: Endocrine disruption; Female fertility; Glyphosate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity*
  • Endocrine System / drug effects
  • Endocrine System / physiology
  • Female
  • Fertility / drug effects*
  • Genitalia, Female / drug effects
  • Genitalia, Female / embryology
  • Genitalia, Female / growth & development
  • Glycine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Glycine / chemistry
  • Glycine / toxicity
  • Herbicides / chemistry
  • Herbicides / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / chemically induced
  • Infertility, Female / epidemiology
  • Reproduction / drug effects
  • Sexual Maturation / drug effects


  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Herbicides
  • glyphosate
  • Glycine