Every fourth chimpanzee and baboon is born with visible deformities.
The researchers found that in Uganda, about a quarter of primates are born with genetic mutations.
Representatives of the international group of scientists from the National Park Kibale in Western Uganda believe that the cause of the mutations were the pesticides.
In this region every fourth chimpanzee and baboon is born with visible deformities — concave noses or missing fingers. Until 2014, these mutations were rare, but by 2016 mutations were observed in 25% of chimpanzees and 17% of baboons. In the populations of apes in other regions are born healthy monkeys.
The reason for such mutations is the insecticides and pesticides used by local farmers, scientists believe. The fact that there is a national Park located factories for the production of tea. And in the soil around these plants found abnormally high levels of pesticides. In particular, on one of the farms found traces of DDT, which is banned in most countries since the 70-ies of the last century.
“At least three pesticides used in this region affect the thyroid hormone, which is involved in the development of the skull. Abnormal levels of hormone in newborns or their mothers are associated with facial dysplasia, including lips,” say the researchers.
However, scientists note further that they “cannot yet exclude the possibility that other factors may contribute to the dysplasia”. This is due to the difficulties in conducting analyses of hormone levels in newborn monkeys.
The researchers plan to collect the urine of monkeys, to find out which pesticides are the most dangerous.
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