Herbicides could be inhibiting the effectiveness of antibiotics according to a new study published in the American Society for Microbiology journal mBio .
The findings showed that higher doses of antibiotics were necessary to deal with the added bacteria of people who had been exposed to herbicides.
Despite great concern about the waning effectiveness of antibiotics this is the first study of its kind looking primarily at non-lethal levels of exposure in combination with the antibiotics.
The study’s lead author, Jack Heinemann, professor of genetics at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, said the greatest impact for the future involved herbicide drift. Higher residues affected farmers and farm workers living in agricultural communities.
“It may take communities talking to each other to find ways to reduce unintended exposures. The countries that are growing GM crops at scale may wish to include these unanticipated effects on microbes in their evaluations,” he said.
Dr Heinemann’s team are also interested in studying additional bacteria and pure samples of the pesticides, as well as which exposure pathways would be relevant to the health of humans, farm animals and important pollinators such as bees.