Monsanto isn’t too happy about what they are calling ‘rumors’ linking its larvicide to microcephaly, the shrunken head and brain-damaged baby phenomenon currently being blamed on the Zika virus.
Those ‘rumors’ are strong enough, though, that the entire state of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil is suspending the use of pyriproxyfen – a chemical added to drinking water to stop the growth of mosquito larvae.
The state government said, “the suspension was communicated to the 19 Regional Health Coordinating Authorities, which in turn will inform the respective Municipal Monitoring services” in all cities in the state.
This followed the release of a report written by doctors with the Argentina-based Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns organization and the Brazilian Collective Health Association, or Abrasco, who questioned whether the larvicide might be linked with microcephaly.
Rio Grande do Sul Health Secretary Joao Gabbardo said that, despite the fact that a relationship between the larvicide and microcephaly has not been proven, the “suspicion” that there may be a linkage had led the organizations to decide to “suspend” the use of the chemical.
He also tweeted:
“In a moment I’ll be in Gente, talking about prohibition of larvicide and Zika.” #BandRS @andrelmachado @ozirismg”
The health secretary said that they cannot ‘run the risk’ of causing more cases of microcephaly, simply because they refused to intervene.
Health Minister Marcelo Castro had a differing opinion which more closely matches Monsanto’s. He said that the larvicide supplied by his ministry presents no danger to the public.
“That is a rumor lacking logic and sense. It has no basis. (The larvicide) is approved by (the National Sanitary Monitoring Agency) and is used worldwide. Pyriproxyfen is recognized by all regulatory agencies in the whole world,” Castro told reporters in the northeastern city of Salvador.
Pyriproxyfen has been used in a massive government-run program tasked to control the mosquito population in the country. Pyriproxyfen is a larvicide manufactured by Sumitomo Chemical, a subsidiary company associated [PDF] with Monsanto.
In their report, the doctors argue that during past Zika epidemics, there have not been any cases of microcephaly linked with the virus. In fact, about 75 percent of the population in countries where Zika broke out had been infected by the mosquito-borne virus.
Monsanto issued a response on Saturday to the “misinformation and rumors on social media.”
Monsanto Combats ‘Rumors’
Monsanto’s post, The truth about Monsanto and the Zika virus, reads:
“You may have seen misinformation and rumors on social media regarding Monsanto, the Zika virus and microcephaly.
Unfortunately, this misinformation causes unwarranted fear and distracts from the health crisis at hand and how you can take steps to protect you and your family. Here are some facts:
- Neither Monsanto nor our products have any connection to the Zika virus or microcephaly.
- Monsanto does not manufacture or sell Pyriproxyfen.
- Monsanto does not own Sumitomo Company. However, Sumitomo is one of our business partners in the area of crop protection.
- Glyphosate is not connected in any way to the Zika virus or microcephaly.
- GMOs have no role in the Zika virus or microcephaly.”