Abstract Title

Challenges and Opportunities in Human Subjects Research: Assessing Glyphosate Exposure in Pregnant Women

Additional Funding Sources

The project described was supported by Institutional Development Awards (IDeA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Grant Nos. P20GM103408, P20GM109095, and 1C06RR020533, National Science Foundation S-STEM Gateway Scholarships in Biological Sciences under Grant Award No. DUE-1644233, and the National Institute Research Center at Boise State. We also acknowledge support from the Biomolecular Research Center at Boise State, RRID:SCR_019174, with funding from the National Science Foundation, Grant Nos. 0619793 and 0923535, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award No. K01ES028745. The project was further supported by The Biomolecular 3 and No. 0923535, the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Lori and Duane Stueckle, and the Idaho State Board of Education.

Abstract

The herbicide glyphosate has rapidly become the most used agricultural chemical. Worldwide glyphosate use rose more than 12-fold in the last two decades, from 150 million pounds in 1995 to nearly 2 billion pounds in 2014. Recent epidemiologic research suggests that exposure to glyphosate may lead to negative pregnancy outcomes, especially pre-term birth. Despite glyphosate’s widespread use and potential toxicity, very little research exists to quantify human exposure to this chemical. The purpose of this study is to measure long-term glyphosate exposure in pregnant women and determine how much of that exposure comes from agricultural and dietary sources. We hypothesize that living near glyphosate-treated agricultural fields and consuming conventional diets results in higher glyphosate exposure. We recruited 40 women from whom we will collect over 1,400 urine samples throughout their pregnancies. We will measure each sample’s glyphosate level to evaluate its potential relationship with residential proximity to agriculture and dietary choices. Here, we aim to describe challenges and opportunities in conducting human subjects research in a vulnerable population of low-income pregnant women — particularly during a global pandemic. Challenges included revising recruitment and sample collection protocols to eliminate “in-person” contact; developing new processes to adapt to major heat waves that could potentially damage samples; and maintaining contact with hard-to-reach populations who were often dealing with housing insecurity. Opportunities included the collection of real-world data; the chance to provide food and financial assistance to study participants; and — perhaps surprisingly — the potential to build unique connections and relationships with those participants.

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Challenges and Opportunities in Human Subjects Research: Assessing Glyphosate Exposure in Pregnant Women

The herbicide glyphosate has rapidly become the most used agricultural chemical. Worldwide glyphosate use rose more than 12-fold in the last two decades, from 150 million pounds in 1995 to nearly 2 billion pounds in 2014. Recent epidemiologic research suggests that exposure to glyphosate may lead to negative pregnancy outcomes, especially pre-term birth. Despite glyphosate’s widespread use and potential toxicity, very little research exists to quantify human exposure to this chemical. The purpose of this study is to measure long-term glyphosate exposure in pregnant women and determine how much of that exposure comes from agricultural and dietary sources. We hypothesize that living near glyphosate-treated agricultural fields and consuming conventional diets results in higher glyphosate exposure. We recruited 40 women from whom we will collect over 1,400 urine samples throughout their pregnancies. We will measure each sample’s glyphosate level to evaluate its potential relationship with residential proximity to agriculture and dietary choices. Here, we aim to describe challenges and opportunities in conducting human subjects research in a vulnerable population of low-income pregnant women — particularly during a global pandemic. Challenges included revising recruitment and sample collection protocols to eliminate “in-person” contact; developing new processes to adapt to major heat waves that could potentially damage samples; and maintaining contact with hard-to-reach populations who were often dealing with housing insecurity. Opportunities included the collection of real-world data; the chance to provide food and financial assistance to study participants; and — perhaps surprisingly — the potential to build unique connections and relationships with those participants.