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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.
— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch) February 13, 2016
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.”
RS suspende larvicida que pode ter relação com a microcefalia https://t.co/QFvP23W69R
— Joao Gabbardo Reis (@GabbardoJoao) February 14, 2016
— Joao Gabbardo Reis (@GabbardoJoao) February 15, 2016
Brazil’s health minister, Marcelo Castro, however, dismissed the larvicide’s link to the congenital condition which causes abnormal smallness of the head.
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