The world is in a state of panic over the Zika virus, an infection spreading like wildfire and is believed to cause microcephaly in babies. But Latin American doctors believe something else is causing microcephaly in Brazil: Pyriproxyfen, a pesticide used in that country since 2014 to halt the development of mosquito larvae in drinking water tanks.

Pyriproxyfen was introduced into Brazil’s water system in 2014 as part of a state-run program aimed at eradicating disease-carrying mosquitoes. The pesticide is manufactured by Sumitomo Chemical, a Japanese “strategic partner” of Monsanto, according to the Argentine doctor’s group Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns (PCST).

The pesticide inhibits the growth of mosquito larvae by altering the insect’s development from larva to pupa to adult. Pyriproxyfen either disables or kills the mosquitoes. It serves as an insect juvenile hormone, or juvenoid, inhibiting the development of adult insect characteristics (including wings and mature external genitalia) and reproductive development. [1]

The chemical’s World Health Organization (WHO) listing shows that it has a relatively low risk profile. Tests carried out by Sumitomo found that Pyriproxyfen was not a tetrogen, meaning it did not cause birth defects in the mammals it was tested on.

Really?

The PCST points out:

“Malformations detected in thousands of children from pregnant women living in areas where the Brazilian state added Pyriproxyfen to drinking water are not a coincidence, even though the Ministry of Health places a direct blame on the Zika virus for this damage.”

The organization also notes that until recently, Zika was considered a relatively benign disease that had never been associated with birth defects, even in areas where 75% of the population was infected.

The public health researchers’ organization, Abrasco, also names Pyriproxyfen as a possible cause of microcephaly. The group condemns the spraying of chemicals to combat disease-carrying mosquitoes, which it says is contaminating the environment and doing nothing to decrease the insects’ population.

In a nutshell, Abrasco alleges that the pesticide spraying is little more than a moneymaking venture for biotech companies who shamelessly prey on the poor. It says the commercial interests of the chemical industry are deeply integrated into the Latin American ministries of health, as well as the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization.

“British GM biotech giant Oxitec – a firm that produces mosquitoes that are genetically modified for sterility – is part of the corporate lobby that is distorting the facts about Zika to make a quick buck, Abrasco alleges. Oxitec markets the mosquitoes as a disease-fighting product, a claim which the Argentine Physicians call “a total failure, except for the company supplying mosquitoes.”

Abrasco has condemned the Brazilian government for its “deliberate concealment” of economic and social causes, saying:

“In Argentina and across America, the poorest populations with the least access to sanitation and safe water suffer most from the outbreak.” PCST agrees, stating, “The basis of the progress of the disease lies in inequality and poverty.” [2]

The World Health Organization (WHO) is steadfast in its belief (at least publicly) that the Zika virus is behind the spate of microcephaly cases in Brazil, and the country’s health minister has said that he has “100% certainty” that the 2 are linked, but not all scientists are convinced, and thus far, there is no solid proof of the association.

The only “proof” that exists at the moment is a report published in the journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology, in which A S Oliveira Melo et al writes of finding the Zika virus in the amniotic fluids and other tissues of just 2 affected babies and their mothers.

On February 3, The New York Times wrote that an analysis by Brazil’s Health Ministry found that:

“Of the cases examined so far, 404 have been confirmed as having microcephaly. Only 17 of them tested positive for the Zika virus. But the government and many researchers say that number may be largely irrelevant, because their tests would find the presence of the virus in only a tiny percentage of cases.”

The notion that Zika is the sole cause of microcephaly was further turned on its head on February 6, when Colombia’s President, Juan Manuel Santos, said that there was no evidence to suggest Zika had caused any cases of the birth defect in his country, which had diagnosed 3,177 cases in pregnant women. [3]

Additionally, the timing is certainly suspect. In 2014, there were 150 reported cases of microcephaly in Brazil – the same year the government began spraying Pyriproxyfen – and a whopping 3,893 reported cases in 2015. [4]

You do the math.

Are we to believe Sumitomo’s assessment that Pyriproxyfen doesn’t cause birth defects in humans? It’s more than a little difficult to place your faith in any company associated with Monsanto, when you consider that Monsanto has an entire department dedicated to disproving scientists, there is an extensive list of politicians that the company has “paid off,” and the biotech giant regularly hires academics to push the “benefits” of GMOs on the public.

Don’t forget: Monsanto is the same company that deliberately covered up data proving that glyphosate – the main ingredient in its blockbuster pesticide Roundup – was cancerous for 40 years.

And it’s not just Pyriproxyfen that is under the microscope. Experts and environmental advocates point out that some agricultural chemicals, which have been banned or phased out in leading industrialized nations, are still being used in developing countries, including Brazil. They are heavily used in northeastern Brazil, where nearly 1/3 of the microcephaly cases have been reported.

One of those chemicals is Paraquat, an herbicide which has been classified as “highly poisonous” in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Paraquat is “still one of the most commonly used herbicides” in the world.

In recent years, Brazil has become one of the top exporters of orange juice, sugar, coffee, beef, poultry, and soybeans, much of which can be attributed to the country’s extensive use of highly toxic pesticides. The WHO says that there are more than 3 million cases of pesticide poisoning globally each year, and more than 220,000 deaths, primarily in developing countries.

Pesticide exposure can cause everything from allergies to problems with fetal development, including microcephaly. Children are far more at risk for health problems caused by pesticide exposure, due to their small size and still-developing immune system. [5]

Sources:

[1] St. Lucia News Online

[2] The Ecologist

[3] The Washington Post

[4] The Japan Times

[5] Epoch Times

Featured image sourced from GM Watch


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Post written byJulie Fidler:
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.