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WSU researchers see health effects across generations from popular weed killer

Washington State University researchers have found a variety of diseases and other health problems in the second- and third-generation offspring of rats exposed to glyphosate, the world’s most popular weed killer. In the first study of its kind, the researchers saw descendants of exposed rats developing prostate, kidney and ovarian diseases, obesity and birth abnormalities.

Michael Skinner.Michael Skinner, a WSU professor of biological sciences, and his colleagues exposed pregnant rats to the herbicide between their eighth and 14th days of gestation. The dose—half the amount expected to show no adverse effect—produced no apparent ill effects on either the parents or the first generation of offspring.

But writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers say they saw “dramatic increases” in several pathologies affecting the second and third generations.

In third-generation males, the researchers saw a 30 percent increase in prostate disease—three times that of a control population. The third generation of females had a 40 percent increase in kidney disease, or four times that of the controls.

More than one-third of the second-generation mothers had unsuccessful pregnancies, with most of those affected dying. Two out of five males and females in the third generation were obese.

“The ability of glyphosate and other environmental toxicants to impact our future generations needs to be considered,” they write, “and is potentially as important as the direct exposure toxicology done today for risk assessment.”

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WSU Insider

From prison to WSU to Stanford

Noel Vest.

Noel Vest’s goal was to go to community college to earn a degree as a chemical dependency counselor when he walked out the doors of a Nevada prison on June 28, 2009.

Other than hard labor, it was the only career he thought was possible for a formerly incarcerated person.

Almost a decade later Vest is about to graduate from Washington State University with a PhD in psychology and start the next chapter of his life as a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University.

“Never in a million years would I have dreamed I’d be where I am today,” Vest said. “There’s a lot to be said about finding what drives you and for me that has been pursuing a career in higher education. It gave me the direction and motivation I needed to turn my life around.”

This June, Vest will move to Palo Alto to begin working with Keith Humphries, professor of psychiatry at Stanford and one of the world’s foremost experts in the prevention and treatment of addictive disorders.

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WSU Insider

Dr. Universe: What can I do to help stop ocean pollution?

Richelle Tanner.

One of the most important things we can do to prevent more pollution is to keep our garbage, especially plastic, out of the ocean. That’s what I found out from my friend Richelle Tanner, a marine biologist and researcher at Washington State University.

Tanner said it’s a lot easier to keep plastic out of the ocean than to get it out of the water. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates the amount of garbage humans put into the ocean every year is equal to about 90 aircraft carriers, those big ships at sea where planes take off and land.

Tanner said you might work with your class to pick up trash near waterways in your community. You might also share what you’ve learned and talk about it with family and friends.

One other thing you can do is try to reduce your own plastic use. For a week, keep track of all the plastic you use. Then, track another week and see if you’ve improved. Ocean pollution is a big problem, but we can all take small steps to help make a big difference.

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Dr. Universe

Mapping manure resources may lead to better phosphorus utilization

Farmers rely on phosphorus fertilizers to enrich the soil and ensure bountiful harvests, but the world’s recoverable reserves of phosphate rocks — from which such fertilizers are produced — are finite and unevenly distributed.

The Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., is spearheading an international effort to map the global flow of phosphorus, much of which will be absorbed by crops, then eaten and excreted as waste by animals and people — and jump-start efforts to recapture and recycle the vital nutrient.

Stephen Steve Powers.

The team showed that there are significant untapped opportunities for recycling phosphorus. First-author Steve Powers, an associate researcher at Washington State University who conceived of the study, is now trying to figure out exactly how much phosphorus can be recaptured from animal and human waste and hopes to identify other opportunities for more efficient phosphorus use.

“If we can recycle more of this locally available waste phosphorus back into agriculture, we might be able to keep it away from leak points while reducing our dependence on future fertilizer imports and mining,” Powers said.

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Lancaster Farming

WSU Vancouver announces 4 award recipients

Bala Krishnamoorthy.Washington State University Vancouver will present four awards at its spring commencement ceremony for advancing equity, research, student achievement and teaching. Among these recipients is Bala Krishnamoorthy, an associate professor and program leader in mathematics and statistics. He will receive the Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence.

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The Columbian