Over the weekend, the Associated Press published stories alleging growing health problems in Argentina due to misapplied and illegal application of pesticides. The stories report that AP documented dozens of such cases, but provide very few specifics. Activist doctors and academics are quoted as asserting that cancer rates and birth defects are increasing and associated with the use of pesticides. Argentina’s government is criticized for not taking action to address activities that threaten public health.
We deplore the misuse of any pesticides, regardless of who makes them. Monsanto’s employees work very hard to ensure that our customers and suppliers are properly trained and use the products according to label instructions, and that applies to Argentina, the United States, and everywhere else we do business.
It’s true that agricultural production and thus the use of pesticide applications in agriculture have grown in Argentina. The Associated Press stories, however, do a poor job of providing any specific information other than harm is being alleged.
Roundup herbicide is used to control weeds for a variety of crops, helping to increase crop yields and grow more food. The stories report that US and EU regulators have determined glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide) to be safe when properly applied and that Monsanto does not condone the misuse of pesticides. The views of critics such as University of Buenos Aires biologist Andres Carrasco are also provided, alleging his research indicates that low doses of glyphosate may be problematic. Public health experts agree that Carrasco’s experiments with frog and chicken embryos are not predictive of health effects in humans or wildlife.
The best information that a compound does or does not cause adverse developmental effects in mammals such as humans is mammalian toxicity testing. There is a substantial and robust body of such testing: six full sets of reproductive and developmental toxicity data on glyphosate from the different manufacturers. These existed long before Dr. Carrasco did his experiments. It is upon the strength of this scientific information that authoritative bodies throughout the world have concluded that glyphosate does not cause adverse developmental effects in human populations.
We absolutely deny that it can cause those at any level as there is no mechanism for that and no evidence of that. The story is overbroad in indicting all “pesticides” when we know that glyphosate is safe. The U.S. EPA and other agencies not only say there is no evidence of carcinogenicity but go further to give it the highest rating, “E,” which means there is affirmative evidence that glyphosate does not cause cancer in humans.
If pesticides are being misused in Argentina, then it is in everyone’s best interests – the public, the government, farmers, industry, and Monsanto – that the misuse be stopped.