Evaluation of the genotoxic effect due to exposure to pesticides in farmers in the municipality of Simijaca, department of Cundinamarca – Colombia.

Project: Research Project

Project Details


Considering that in the Cundi-Boyacense highlands, agriculture is one of the main occupations, exposure to these chemicals is a cause for concern given their effect on human health.

Pesticides play an important role in the control of agricultural pests, with those classified as organophosphates being used most frequently (Bolognesi 2003).

Currently, there are more than 1000 chemicals that are classified as pesticides, some of them considered potential genotoxic agents.

Although the World Health Organization (WHO) groups pesticides according to their potential health risks (Fait, Bent, Tiramani, Visenti, & Maroni, 2004), several of these, classified as extremely toxic, are still used in our country, including herbicide, fungicide and insecticide (mancozeb, glyphosate, malathion) (Idrovo, 2000).

For many years, different studies have been carried out, which have demonstrated the carcinogenic effect of certain pesticides in animals and the increased risk of developing malignant tumors in exposed populations.

The widespread use of these and the long and persistent exposure of agricultural workers to them makes the evaluation of the carcinogenic and mutagenic risk become a necessity due to the high danger that they represent. Therefore, for some years now, several investigations have been aimed at evaluating the cytotoxic and genotoxic damage that exposure to them can generate.

Although many studies have reported the high toxicity associated with these chemicals, information on their effects on farmers in the department of Cundinamarca is unknown, scarce or non-existent.

Biomonitoring tests carried out to evaluate such toxicity in occupationally exposed individuals include, among others, analysis of chromosomal alterations (CA).

These analyzes are considered reliable, given their association with the risk of developing cancer (Bonassi, Hagmar et al. 2000).

Chromosomal damage related to pesticide exposure has been identified in several populations, and while some researchers have reported significant differences in the percentage of AC in exposed individuals compared to unexposed controls (Balaji & Sasikala, 1993; Bréga et al., 1998; Carbonell, Puig,

However, it is important to highlight that in these studies, the evaluation of chromosomal damage is limited only to the identification of gaps, breaks, sister chromatid exchange (ICH) (Gómez-Arroyo et al., 2000) and micronuclei. (MN), among others, so the type and frequency of specific chromosomal alterations induced by exposure to pesticides is unknown.

Additionally, the few studies in our country on the harmful effects of pesticides, as well as the limited information about the genotoxic damage that exposure to them can generate, make it necessary to evaluate chromosomal alterations (CA) and chromosomal instability (IC). in a group of farmers occupationally exposed to pesticides in Simijaca Cundinamarca, Colombia.

The above evidences the need to deepen and increase our knowledge about CA and HF generated by exposure to pesticides and in this way establish future possibilities for the application of early and follow-up diagnostic tests.

The objective of this study is to evaluate genotoxic damage (AC and IC) in a group of farmers occupationally exposed to pesticides in the municipality of Simijaca in the department of Cundinamarca, Colombia.

For the above, AC and IC will be evaluated in a group of 5 farmers occupationally exposed to pesticides, and in a group of 5 unexposed individuals (control group), through the application of Band Cytogenetics (GTG Banding) and Molecular Cytogenetics techniques. (Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization - FISH).

In the same way, correlations will be determined between such genomic damage, time of exposure to pesticides and sociodemographic characteristics of the study population.

By carrying out this study we hope to increase our knowledge about genotoxic damage (AC and IC) caused by exposure to pesticides and in this way establish the implementation of early and follow-up diagnostic tests in the future.


Pesticides, cell damage, cytogenetics.
Short titleGenotoxicity due to pesticides.
Effective start/end date1/1/2012/31/23

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy

Main Funding Source

  • National


  • Simijaca


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