A number of health experts are calling into question why exactly U.S. officials have been turning to highly toxic pesticides that are known to cause cancer and birth defects to try to combat the Zika virus, which is being spread by mosquitoes.
By James Spounias
On Aug. 4, Miami officials ordered the spraying of naled, an organophosphate pesticide, to kill Zika-carrying mosquitos in the artsy Wynwood district of Miami. Wynwood had several individuals who were said to carry Zika. Some local residents, however, were outraged when they discovered that naled is banned by the European Union as causing an “unacceptable risk to human health,” because it is in a class of pesticides that have dangerous side effects.
In the United States, naled, among many other organophosphate pesticides, is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and most state environmental agencies.
A devastating irony is that birth defects—the very thing that naled is supposed to curb by killing Zika-carrying mosquitos—are a side effect of organophosphates.
Organophosphates, to the surprise of many, have been used for decades throughout the United States, long before the Zika fright was brought to America.
On the same day the spraying was initiated, Dr. Naresh Kumar, a professor of public health at the University of Miami, told CBS Miami bluntly that there are risks inherent in using naled but that the concern of some is overblown.
“All [organophosphates] are a neurotoxin, meaning it will directly affect our nervous system,” said Kumar. “It will affect not only the pregnant woman . . . [I]t is also equally (concerning) for children who have asthma and airway disease because when you are spraying in the air, these aerosols stay in the air for at least five days.”
Miami-Dade County, Fla. officials counter that because they are using only small amounts of naled, which is dispersed from airplanes using aerosol-type dispensers, the health risk is low.
Dennis Olle, a Miami attorney and board member of the Miami Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association, made the point that the Aedes aegypti species of mosquitos, said to carry Zika, flies low to the ground and breeds in areas not easily accessible.
“I don’t care what [the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)] says. It’s bad stuff,” Olle told The Miami Herald on Aug. 11. “It’s one thing to call in air strikes, but it’s generally ineffective.”
Puerto Rico is experiencing a significant number of Zika cases, reportedly 1,500 per week. In spite of CDC-backed orders that naled be sprayed in Puerto Rico, outraged Puerto Ricans ultimately blocked the spraying, according to the alternative media weekly Miami New Times.
Dr. Elvia Melendez-Ackerman, an environmental biologist at the University of Puerto Rico’s Rio Piedras campus, wrote a letter urging the mayor of Miami to stop spraying naled.
Dr. Melendez-Ackerman stated: “We all have heard of the intention to fumigate Miami with naled, and with all due respect, we are starting to see in Florida a repeat of what we went through: Public servants not reading the science that is in front of them.”
Melendez-Ackerman told the New Times: “People don’t know all the risks. This degrades into a carcinogen. It’s in the EPA documents.”
National Public Radio (NPR) used the word “mistrust” to characterize Puerto Rico’s refusal to be sprayed in its Aug. 10, report, titled “Puerto Rico’s Efforts to Stop Zika Are Hampered by Mistrust.”
The mayor of San Juan called the spraying “environmental terror,” reported NPR.
NPR spoke with Ralph Rivera Gutierrez, dean of the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Puerto Rico, who they described as “still irate about the proposed aerial spraying.”
Gutierrez told NPR, “To go and spray the entire country, based on the limited scientific evidence of the association [between Zika and microcephaly]—that is outrageous to us.”
“We are an invaded country,” Gutierrez explained. “We’ve been a colony of the U.S. for 118 years, and there’s been a lot of experimentation done on us. And so people have had enough of that.”
There are many studies connecting pesticides to birth defects and cardiovascular, cognitive, and respiratory complications, according to public interest group Beyond Pesticides. Many of the studies were done on infants whose parents either worked on or lived close to agricultural areas, where organophosphate exposure is acute.
Critics of organophosphate use point out that studies only look at acute exposure, not long-term effects.
In a July 18, 2013 article entitled “Organophosphates: A Common But Deadly Pesticide,” National Geographic reported that the EPA conducts “ecotox” studies of short-term exposure risks.
Exposure scientist Dana Boyd Barr of Atlanta’s Emory University told National Geographic, “This chronic low-level exposure that we all might be exposed to (and which is considered safe in the U.S.) could functionally decrease the neurological capacity of children.”
Large amounts of organophosphates are deadly, having the same mechanism as sarin nerve gas. They are deemed “junior-strength nerve agents,” according to Boyd.
Dying by organophosphates is “a painful way to die,” Boyd said. “You end up suffocating because you are essentially paralyzed.”
It’s not terribly comforting knowing minute amounts of a deadly compound are being sprayed to kill mosquitos and the best assurance is that just because we don’t drop dead immediately after being sprayed, everything is hunky-dory.
Jon Rappoport, a blogger whose reporting on Zika attracted much attention, referred on Aug. 13 to the 2014 CHARGE study, which stands for “Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment” and was published in Environmental Health Perspectives. That study found newborns whose carrying mothers lived within a mile of organophosphates during pregnancy were associated with a 60% greater risk of developing Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The study states, “This study of ASD strengthens the evidence linking neurodevelopmental disorders with gestational pesticide exposures, particularly organophosphates. . . .”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, via his wife, Ann, has an undisclosed interest in a mosquito-control company named Mosquito Control Services (MCS). This connection is through a private investment firm she co-owns with him, according to Dan Christensen of Floridabulldog.org.
While it is not known if any of the $26.2 million in emergency funds allocated to Zika preparedness by Scott’s June 23, 2016 executive order went to MCS, Floridians who oppose spraying may find themselves with a less than receptive audience in Florida’s executive branch. Christensen reported that MCS did not reply to two of his requests for comment.
The bottom line remains that the connection between the Zika virus and mosquito transmission is less than certain, as Dean Gutierrez noted.
Microcephaly, in a whopping 25,000 cases in the U.S., has been found to potentially be brought about by “any insult that disturbs brain growth and can be seen in association with hundreds of genetic syndromes.”
The high number of U.S. cases of microcephaly in the absence of Zika is perhaps best explained by the fact that even the establishment has confessed—in Orwellian speak—that “to a disturbing extent infants are born ‘pre-polluted,’ ” as has been reported by this writer in American Free Press.
Is Zika hysteria fueled for propaganda purposes, such as distraction from other events, or to serve as a sort of soft mind-control weapon by keeping people in a perpetual state of terror and fear? Or is Zika mania laying the groundwork for implementation of Big Government, pharma, and chemical solutions that will rip away at our liberty, health, and treasure?
Time will tell.
James Spounias is the president of Carotec Inc., originally founded by renowned radio show host and alternative health expert Tom Valentine.