The Zika virus has gained international attention because it has been investigated as the cause of thousands of deformed babies in Brazil from a mosquito that carries the virus. Microcephaly is a genetic condition that has babies born with extremely small heads. These babies will endure mental and physical problems throughout their lives, which are often short or require institutional care.
A group of US based scientists is dismissing the proposed link from the larvicide to microcephaly. The US scientists say that the larvicide has been used safely for years without causing microcephaly. Liz Sabo of USA Today released an article on Feb. 16, 2016 that is titled “Scientists debunk theory linking pesticide, not Zika, to birth defects.” You can get the US scientists view of the Zika virus and their analysis of its link to the microcephaly outbreak.
The virus has been confirmed to have spread to the US, Europe and across South America. President Obama has requested $1.8 billion for research to combat the spread of the mosquitoes that carry the virus. However, there is a group of doctors in Argentina that feels the cause of the microcephaly is not the Aedes aegypti mosquito but the larvicide put into water supplies to kill the mosquitoes.
In an article authored by Alyssa Navarro of Tech Time on Feb. 14, 2016 titled “Larvicide Manufactured By Sumitomo, Not Zika Virus, True Cause Of Brazil’s Microcephaly Outbreak: Doctors”. Doctors from Argentina provided the data that had them reach the conclusion that the main cause of the deformity is the larvicide. The director of Brazil’s health ministry has conducted an initial investigation that showed about 33% of the microcephaly cases occurred concurrently with the Zika virus. This brings the US scientists’ conclusion that the larvicide is not the cause of microcephaly into serious doubt. It is going to take some time to sort this out.
Doctors from Argentina formed a group Physicians in Crop-Sprayed Towns (PCST) that determined that the cause of the microcephaly in newborn babies was a larvicide put into the drinking water tanks and reservoirs in several states in Brazil. 35% of the total cases of microcephaly in Brazil occurred in Pernambuco, one of the most mosquito infested states in Brazil. The major campaign in Brazil to kill the mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries the Zika virus,) occurred in 2014.
The PCST doctors concluded that during past Zika epidemics in Columbia, no cases of microcephaly were linked with the Zika virus. The Zika virus is highly contagious, with up to 75% of the population infected by the Zika virus where mosquito outbreaks have occurred. Despite high rates of Zika virus infection, the number of microcephaly cases were very low in Columbia. The recent outbreak of microcephaly in Brazil is unexplained at this point.
The larvicide is manufactured by Sumitomo Chemical, a chemical company in Japan. Sumitomo Chemical insists that the larvicide, pyriproxyfen, that is sold under the trade name of Sumilarv® 0.5G, poses minimal risk to birds, fish and mammals. The following description comes from Sumitomo’s web site.
SumiLarv® 0.5 G, is an advanced mosquito larval control agent pioneered by Sumitomo Chemical to prevent larvae from developing into adult mosquitoes. A granule formulation for application to water bodies with a high safety margin, Sumilarv 0.5 G contains the insect growth regulator pyriproxyfen, which is highly active and long-lasting at very low dose rates.
The favourable safety profile of Sumilarv 0.5G not only poses minimal risk to mammals, birds and fish; it also allows it to be applied to drinking water.
The statement that Sumilarv can be applied to drinking water is likely to cost Sumitomo Chemicals a huge amount if the link from Sumilarv to microcephaly is established. It should be noted that many articles have linked Sumitomo Chemical to Monsanto. Monsanto has a trade agreement for distribution of its agricultural chemicals through Sumitomo Chemicals in the Far East. Monsanto’s Roundup is the largest selling agricultural chemical in the world, but the problem in Brazil is not a Monsanto issue. This is a quote from a Monsanto spokesman.
Neither Monsanto nor our products have any connection to the Zika virus or microcephaly. Monsanto does not manufacture or sell Pyriproxyfen. And, Monsanto does not own Sumitomo Chemical Company. It is, however, a business partner like others in the area of crop protection.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has been pursuing the link of the Zika virus to the occurrence of microcephaly. Several companies are working on a vaccine against the Zika virus. If the Argentinian doctors are correct that SumiLarv® is causing the problem, the vaccine may not reduce the cases of microcephaly. Just as glyphosate, the active chemical in Monsanto’s Roundup™ , has a residual content on plants, water and crop land, Sumilarv® also has a long-lasting effect over time.
The FDA needs to be investigating glyphosate’s long-term effects on humans, with emphasis on its potential to damage human DNA leading to cancer, organ damage, and any other harm to humans related to residual glyphosate. If Sumilarv is determined to be a major cause of microcephaly, it should be considered as a warning to the FDA to look into the many agricultural chemicals applied to GMO crops, and the mosquito control sprays used throughout the US to control West Nile virus mosquitoes, and other mosquito borne diseases.