Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Brazilian State Suspends Larvicide Used to Combat Zika, Monsanto Slams 'Rumors' Regarding Virus

Health + Wellness

Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil's southernmost state, has suspended the use of the pyriproxyfen—a pesticide that stops the development of mosquito larvae in drinking tanks—to combat the spread of the Zika virus, according to a report from Fox News Latino.

The state government's move came after separate reports from the Argentine group Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns (PCST) and Brazilian Collective Health Association (Abrasco) suggested that the larvicide, not the Zika virus, was responsible for the alarming spike in microcephaly.

In its report, PCST claims that in 2014 the Brazilian Ministry of Health introduced pyriproxyfen to drinking-water reservoirs in the state of Pernambuco, where the proliferation of the Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito is very high. As it happens, the northeastern state holds roughly 35 percent of the total microcephaly cases across the country. Abrasco's report also linked the pesticide to the abnormality.

The PCST report said that the larvicide, known by its commercial name SumiLarv, is manufactured by Sumitomo Chemical, a "Japanese subsidiary of Monsanto." As word spread of the report, the St. Louis-based agribusiness giant clarified its relationship to Sumitomo, calling them "one of our business partners in the area of crop protection."

According to Fox News Latino, Rio Grande do Sul government officials said Sunday that "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.

The state's health secretary, Joao Gabbardo dos Reis, said that the "suspicion" of the larvicide's link to microcephaly led the organizations to decide to "suspend" the use of the chemical, even though the relationship between the larvicide and microcephaly has not been scientifically proven.

"We cannot run that risk," Gabbardo added.

Gabbardo sent this tweet Sunday that translates to: "RS [Rio Grande do Sul] suspends larvicide that can be related to microcephaly."

He also tweeted today: "In a moment I'll be in Gente, talking about prohibition of larvicide and Zika." 

Brazil's health minister, Marcelo Castro, however, dismissed the larvicide's link to the congenital condition which causes abnormal smallness of the head.

Read page 1

"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 city of Salvador.

Castro said he is "absolutely sure" that the virus is connected to the rare birth defect. According to the Associated Press, "Brazil has reported 5,079 suspected cases of microcephaly since October, of which 462 cases have been confirmed while 765 have been discarded. Of the confirmed microcephaly cases, 41 have been connected to Zika."

Brazil's federal government issued a similar statement, the Telegraph reported:

“Unlike the relationship between the Zika virus and microcephaly, which has had its confirmation shown in tests that indicated the presence of the virus in samples of blood, tissue and amniotic fluid, the association between the use of pyriproxyfen and microcephaly has no scientific basis. It’s important to state that some localities that do not use pyriproxyfen also had reported cases of microcephaly.”

The government said it only used larvicides recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and indicated that no scientific study has linked pyriproxyfen to microcephaly.

Sumitomo Chemical issued a statement to Fox News Latino saying, "There is no scientific basis for such a claim," adding that the product has been approved by the WHO since 2004 and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since 2001.

Monsanto issued a response on Saturday to the "misinformation and rumors on social media."

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.

The Zika virus is a tragic and critical health issue. Dealing effectively with such an important health threat requires a focus on the facts. As a science-based company working to help meet some of the world’s biggest challenges we support all efforts to combat this health crisis. We hope all efforts will be taken based on the facts, not rumors.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE 

Latin American Doctors Suggest Monsanto-Linked Larvicide Cause of Microcephaly, Not Zika Virus

Coffee Farmers Sue Monsanto for Hiding Cancer-Causing Impact of Glyphosate

Poisoned Kids in Flint Are Just the Tip of the Toxic Iceberg

Mark Ruffalo: We’re Heading Toward a National Water Crisis

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Some speculate that the dissemination of the Antarctic beeches or Nothofagus moorei (seen above in Australia) dates to the time when Antarctica, Australia and South America were connected. Auscape / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

A team of scientists drilled into the ground near the South Pole to discover forest and fossils from the Cretaceous nearly 90 million years ago, which is the time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, as the BBC reported.

Read More Show Less
The recovery of elephant seals is one of the "signs of hope" that scientists say show the oceans can recover swiftly if we let them. NOAA / CC BY 2.0

The challenges facing the world's oceans are well known: plastic pollution could crowd out fish by 2050, and the climate crisis could wipe out coral reefs by 2100.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A schoolchildren crossing sign is seen in front of burned trees in Mallacoota, Australia on Jan. 15, 2020. Luis Ascui / Getty Images

By Bhiamie Williamson, Francis Markham and Jessica Weir

The catastrophic bushfire season is officially over, but governments, agencies and communities have failed to recognize the specific and disproportionate impact the fires have had on Aboriginal peoples.

Read More Show Less
Workers convert the Scottish Events Campus, where COP26 was to be held, into a field hospital to treat COVID-19 patients. ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP via Getty Images

The most important international climate talks since the Paris agreement was reached in 2015 have been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
An aerial view of a crude oil storage facility of Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) in the Krasnodar Territory. Vitaly Timkiv / TASS / Getty Images

Oil rigs around the world keep pulling crude oil out of the ground, but the global pandemic has sent shockwaves into the market. The supply is up, but demand has plummeted now that industry has ground to a halt, highways are empty, and airplanes are parked in hangars.

Read More Show Less