Glyphosate is the activate ingredient in the prevalent herbicide Roundup, which is used on important food crops. The chemical has deleterious effects on human biology, such as disrupting the beneficial bacteria found in the gut.

Researchers noted the parallels between the sharp increase in glyphosate usage and a hike in the number of autism cases during the same time period. They believed glyphosate could account for many of the symptoms and biological metrics of autism, reported Green Med Info. (Related: Follow the money: Monsanto-influenced lawmakers side with chemical industry, question IARCs findings on glyphosate, threaten to cut funding to the WHO.)

To test their hypothesis, they performed experiments on mice, a common laboratory animal that can develop a syndrome similar to human autism.

The researchers used multiple models of mice in their experiment. One model consisted of specimens of the BTBR strain. These mice are known for their weaker-than-normal gut microbiomes. A second model was created by contaminating the brain of a pregnant female mouse with a chemical, causing its babies to express autistic behaviors.

“Remarkably, these mutant mice recapitulate almost the full range of autistic symptoms,” observed the researchers.

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