Microcephaly is a birth defect that can have a number of causes
, from being congenital, caused by malnutrition, certain infections during pregnancy, interruption of the blood supply to the baby's brain during development, or exposure to harmful substances, such as alcohol, certain drugs, or toxic chemicals.
The Brazilian Health Ministry began associating the Zika virus with microcephaly in newborns when it became apparent that the Zika virus was spreading in the northeastern part of the country, resulting in health authorities looking into the possibility of the virus being responsible for the birth defects.
But the belief by the Brazilian Health Ministry that Zika was responsible was challenged by a couple groups of doctors, one being Dr. Sandra Mattos, a pediatric cardiologist, and a group of doctors called Physicians in Crop-Sprayed Towns (PCST), according to a story in Digital Journal
on February 15.
The physicians in the maverick medical groups are saying it may be possible that other factors may be responsible for the number of cases of birth defects seen in Brazilian women, such as certain pesticides being added to the drinking water supply in many of the country's northeastern states.
Agrochemical companies have circled their wagons
On Monday, agrichemical giant, Monsanto responded to what the company is calling " misinformation and rumors on social media" about the company. In the news release,
Monsanto says, "Neither Monsanto nor our products have any connection to the Zika virus or microcephaly."
The company goes on to say it does not manufacture or sell Pyriproxyfen, a larvicide, adding it doesn't even manufacture larvicides. As far as the Japanese company Sumitomo Chemical, Monsanto was quick to say it doesn't own it, but since 1997, it has been a "trusted business partner."
Sumitomo Chemical responded to media stories on the use of the company's larvicide, Pyriproxyfen, the active ingredient in SumiLarv that has been added to drinking water in Brazil to control mosquito larva. According to the company's news release:
"Sumitomo Chemical, the manufacturer of the product, reassures that this product is safe and effective for the use in combating diseases spread by mosquitoes and that the concerns related to microcephaly are totally unfounded."
Sumitomo cites a publication titled “Pyriproxyfen in Drinking Water
” by the World Health Organization and the USA Environmental Protection Agency concludes that pyriproxyfen is not mutagenic, not genotoxic, not carcinogenic and not teratogenic.
There are still many skeptics. Zika virus may not be the cause of microcephaly, but then again, until all avenues are researched, no one will know for sure. Further investigation is needed.
is reporting the local government of Grande do Sul in the southern portion of Brazil has suspended the use of SumiLarv.