It really sucks when a celebrity you like and admire screws up. Before social media, you might never have known whether stars were prone to bouts of excessive credulity when it comes to medicine, conspiracy theories, the paranormal, or whatever. Twenty years ago, for instance, few might ever have known that Jenny McCarthy was into “indigo child woo” or rabidly antivaccine, falling hard for the scientifically discredited concept that vaccines cause autism. That’s just one example.

Of course, some people, celebrity or not, are just prone to conspiracy belief. Unfortunately, sometimes people who have a better track record also screw up. In this case, I’m referring to George Takei, who rose to fame as Hikaru Sulu, helmsman for the U.S.S. Enterprise in the original Star Trek series. He’s someone I’ve always liked and more recently admired for his activism. True fact: I saw him at a Star Trek convention in Cleveland about 26 years ago, where, as part of his talk he off-handedly recommended a restaurant where he had dined the night before the convention. When I met the woman who is now my wife and asked her out on a first date, I took her to that restaurant. So you could say that Takei had a bit of a role in my impressing the woman whom I ended up marrying.

In recent years, Takei has gained prominence as a gay rights activist and icon, as well as a social media juggernaut, with 1.8 million followers on Twitter and 9.5 million Likes on Facebook (including me). He also has a major presence on Tumblr and Instagram.

Yesterday, I was disturbed to see this pop up on my Facebook feed:

Say it ain't so, George! Say you aren't falling for an obvious Zika virus conspiracy theory!

Say it ain’t so, George! Say you aren’t falling for an obvious Zika virus conspiracy theory!

Here’s the article: Zika virus not to blame: Doctors cite man-made cause for birth defect epidemic.

Uh-oh.

Unfortunately, my fears upon reading the title to this article were not unfounded:

The Zika virus has been blamed for thousands of cases of the birth defect microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with severely shrunken heads and brain damage. But now a medical organization is challenging that connection, saying that the chemical larvicide Pyriproxyfen is instead to blame.

The Argentine organization Doctors in the Crop-Sprayed Towns says that most affected children live in areas in which the chemical was added in 2014 to local drinking water in an attempt to control mosquito populations. The larvicide is used to create malformations in mosquito larvae, in order to impair their development and reproductive abilities. Pyriproxyfen is manufactured by Sumitomo Chemical, a Japanese strategic partner of Monsanto.

“Malformations detected in thousands of children from pregnant women living in areas where the Brazilian state added Pyriproxyfen to drinking water are not a coincidence, even though the Ministry of Health places a direct blame on the Zika virus for this damage,” said the doctors.

Monsanto. It just had to be Monsanto. I will give these cranks props for figuring out a way to blame Monsanto for the microcephaly suspected to be caused by Zika virus without mentioning GMOs. Well played, Second Nexus, well-played. Not so well-played, Mr. Takei. Not so well-played in falling for this.

Unfortunately, it was even worse-played when Mr. Takei responded to criticisms that he was falling for a conspiracy theory:

Is it irresponsible to even raise the question? Here is a link to the report. Surely it warrants further investigation? http://www.reduas.com.ar/…/Informe-Zika-de-Reduas_TRAD.pdf

This is what we in the skeptic biz like to call JAQing off (just asking questions)? As I like to say: Questions are not bad, but when they are built on a premise of pseudoscience they can lead one astray. But what about this report? In this case, what we’re seeing is yet another example of leaping to infer causation from correlation, just as I discussed last week when antivaccinationists noted that in 2014 the Brazilian Ministry of Health also started recommending that pregnant women receive the Tdap vaccine between weeks 27 and 36 of pregnancy. The result has been a whole boatload of antivaccine conspiracies blaming the increase in microcephaly on the Tdap vaccination. One can’t help but wonder what else the Brazilian Ministry of Health did in 2014 that cranks can blame microcephaly on.

Each case is different, though; so let’s take a look at this particular claim. First off, what is Pyriproxyfen? Basically, it’s a pesticide that is effective against a wide variety of arthropoda (which includes insects and spiders). Specifically, it’s a a juvenile hormone analog that prevents insect larvae from developing into adulthood and thus renders them unable to reproduce. It was introduced into the US in 1996 to protect crops against the whitefly.

Now here’s the thing. It’s not as though pyriproxyfen hasn’t been well studied. The WHO even has a web page with its guidelines for pyriproxifen in drinking water. A great deal is known about its physiochemical properties, toxicology, and safe levels. Specifically, the WHO recommends that the dosage of pyriproxyfen in potable water in containers should not exceed 0.01 mg/L under the WHO Pesticides Evaluation Scheme. More specifically:

Pyriproxyfen was not genotoxic in an adequate range of tests for mutagenicity and cytogenicity in vitro and in vivo. JMPR concluded that pyriproxyfen is not genotoxic.

The reproductive toxicity of pyriproxyfen in rats has been investigated in a two- generation study, a study involving treatment of males and females before and in the early stages of gestation (segment 1) and a study of treatment during the prenatal and lactation periods (segment 3). The NOAEL for maternal toxicity was 1000 mg/kg, equivalent to 98 mg/kg of body weight per day, in the two-generation study and 100 mg/kg of body weight per day in the segment 3 study. Reproductive toxicity was observed only in the segment 3 study, in which there was an increased number of stillbirths in the F0 generation and a reduction in the number of implantations and in the mean number of live fetuses in the F1 generation at 500 mg/kg of body weight per day. The NOAEL for reproductive toxicity was 300 mg/kg of body weight per day. No reproductive toxicity was observed in the two-generation study, the NOAEL being 5000 mg/kg, equivalent to 340 mg/kg of body weight per day, the highest dose tested, or in the segment 1 study, the NOAEL being 1000 mg/kg of body weight per day, the highest dose tested.

NOAEL refers to “no-observed-adverse-effect level,” and these are some pretty high levels compared to what is permitted. Indeed, the maximum recommended dosage of 0.01 mg/L is equivalent to less than 1% of the upper limit of the acceptable daily intake.

It goes beyond that, though. In a Quora post, an immunologist named Tirumalai Kamala lays out several other pieces of evidence that make a link between pyriproxyfen and microcephaly highly unlikely. For example:

A larvicide used to kill Aedes aegypti larvae, pyriproxifen is sprayed all the time. Why then did microcephaly arise in a relatively small proportion of children and why did it only start to show up from ~Dec 2015 when pyriproxifen’s been sprayed in Brazil at least through all of 2014 and 2015?

And:

Such widespread use in so many countries begs the question why microcephaly link wouldn’t have shown up in any of those countries in all the years it’s been used there. Of course, dose may well be a factor if much higher doses were used in Brazil. If dose is a determining factor, it still doesn’t explain why microcephaly didn’t show up earlier since usage goes back years, not a few months.

I would also add that Brazil would have to have been using truly massive doses to exceed the acceptable daily intake, not to mention that humans do not make or use sesquiterpenoid hormones (a.k.a. insect juvenile hormones), which is what pyriproxifen targets. Finally, one can’t help but notice that Doctors in the Crop-Sprayed Towns is anything but an objective group. It’s been around at least since 2010, and its message has always been the same dating back to 2010: That pesticides cause spontaneous abortions, infertility, congenital malformations, and a wide variety of disorders. In other words, this is a biased report from a biased group presenting no evidence to back up its conclusions. It’s all speculation based on a fear of pesticides.

Then there’s the fact that the entire conspiracy-laden analysis by this group completely ignores two very important pieces of evidence, that MMWR report of Zika virus in fetuses with microcephaly and the New England Journal of Medicine case report published last week. This report describes the case of a 25 year old previously healthy European woman in Ljubljana, Slovenia who had worked as a volunteer in Natal, the capital of Rio Grande Do Norte state in Brazil since December 2013. She became pregnant near the end of February 2015 and became ill during her estimated 13th week of gestation with a high fever, a rash, musculoskeletal pain, and eye pain. Infection with Zika virus was suspected, but no diagnostic testing was performed. Ultrasound at 14 and 20 weeks showed normal fetal growth and anatomy. The patient ultimately returned to Europe around her 28th week, and a 29 week ultrasound examination showed fetal anomalies. Another ultrasound at 32 weeks showed intrauterine growth retardation, a head circumference less than the second percentile for gestation, along with abnormalities of the brain, including calcifications. The pregnancy was terminated, and the fetus showed prominent microcephaly, with almost complete agyria (lack of the normal folds on the surface of the brain). Other abnormalities included inflammation and evidence of of a viral infection in the neurons.

A detailed family history failed to find any genetic syndromes, and other causes of microcephaly were ruled out. The brain tissue was subjected to next generation sequencing, and:

A complete ZIKV genome sequence (10,808 nucelotides) was recovered from brain tissue. Phylogenetic analysis showed the highest identity (99.7%) with the ZIKV strain isolated from a patient from French Polynesia in 2013 (KJ776791) and ZIKV detected in Sao Paolo, Brazil, in 2015 (KU321639), followed by a strain isolated in Cambodia in 2010 (JN860885, with 98.3% identity) and with a strain from the outbreak in Micronesia in 2007 (EU545988, with 98% identity).

And:

The complete genome sequence of ZIKV that was recovered in this study is consistent with the observation that the present strain in Brazil has emerged from the Asian lineage. The presence of two major amino acid substitutions positioned in nonstructural proteins NS1 and NS4B probably represents an accidental event or indicates a process of eventual adaptation of the virus to a new environment. Further research is needed to better understand the potential implications of these observations.

In other words, the virus isolated from this microcephalic fetus appears to have come from Asia. It also appears to have two mutations in nonstructural proteins, the significance of which are unknown. Again, this is not slam-dunk evidence that Zika virus causes microcephaly, given that it’s only one case. (For instance, something else could have caused the microcephaly and at the same time made the fetal brain more susceptible to infection.) Even so, it adds to the accumulation of evidence linking Zika virus to microcephaly. So the claim of these doctors that it’s not the Zika virus causing microcephaly is looking less and less plausible as more evidence comes in. Has it been proven with slam dunk evidence that Zika virus is causing microcephaly in Brazil? No, but the evidence linking the two appears to be getting stronger.

So, Mr. Takei, let’s talk.

There are lots of conspiracy theories out there. There’s lots of pseudoscience out there. Whenever something like the Zika virus makes it into the news, you can be absolutely sure that conspiracy theories based on pseudoscience will inevitably follow. That’s why it’s so critical to do a little research before sharing something like this. When you have such an enormous social media platform, you owe it to your fans not to use it to spread misinformation like this.

Comments

  1. #1 Amethyst
    The Crystal Temple
    February 15, 2016

    The saying “Never meet your heroes” needs to be updated to reflect our modern age:

    “Never read your heroes’ tweets”.

  2. #2 Søren Kongstad
    Danmark
    February 15, 2016

    I saw mr Takeis link – he is very prolific on Facebook.

    I skimmed the article, but seeing the throwaway line
    “Pyriproxyfen is manufactured by Sumitomo Chemical, a Japanese strategic partner of Monsanto.”
    Raised my hackles.

  3. #3 Denice Walter
    February 15, 2016

    Unfortunately, I heard the same theory being cited @ prn.fm.

    Oh George really.

    In other news..
    Jenny herself has a show on satellite radio called ‘Dirty, Sexy, Funny’ or suchlike. She must be continuing with anti-vax since she had Kim Stagliano as a guest.

  4. #4 Dangerous Bacon
    February 15, 2016

    You could write a book (and someone probably already has) about the human tendency to blamed disease outbreaks on whatever external forces one fears/hates in general.

    Looking at the history of the Black Death, conspiracy-shouters of the time blamed a variety of causes including licentious behavior, Jews and even climate change:

    “…the ancients, most notably Hippocrates, are agreed that if the four seasons run awry, and do not keep their proper course, then plagues and mortal passions are engendered that year.”

    http://ericmarcarelli.com/the-medieval-understanding-of-the-black-plague/

    We can’t just have infectious agents mutating and causing disease outbreaks with previously unseen causes and distribution. THEY must have done it!

    *of course natural disease outbreaks are especially unacceptable to antivaxers, because they highlight the seriousness of infectious diseases, and often result in vaccines being seen in a favorable light.

  5. #5 Denice Walter
    February 15, 2016

    @ Dangerous Bacon:

    Sure. Fraser writes about witchcraft as the cause of death prior to general belief in naturalistic causes:
    briefly, life is understood as the action of another being upon or within the person or animal ( as a soul) if animation ceases it must be because that soul was removed by another being from without.

    I liken some woo theories about ASDs/ mental illness to this:
    no one has these conditions because of internal causes
    ( genetics) but something external ( vaccines, toxins, imperfect diet, whatever) caused the condition and thus, external cures ( diet, chelation, supplements etc) work.

  6. #6 Lawrence
    February 15, 2016

    I just saw that Monsanto put out a statement to refute this particular conspiracy theory….although that won’t satisfy the hard-core nuts.

  7. #7 Denice Walter
    February 15, 2016

    Similarly:

    Mike Adams ( audio podcast today, Natural News)
    DOCTORS and NURSES cause illness and death therefore, avoid them or protect yourself !
    ( also- Death by Medicine- Null et al)

  8. #8 doug
    February 15, 2016

    At least Takei properly identifies Sumitomo as a “strategic partner” of Monsanto, whereas the doc from the docs identifies Sumimoto (sic, in the text, properly in the list of references) as a subsidiary of Monsanto.
    The parroting of the doc’s doc has been an interesting demonstration of how incompetent the inforwarrior and “do your own reasearch” types are at actually doing even the most trivial of so-called research.

  9. #9 Mary M
    February 15, 2016

    Yeah, that’s unfortunate. And you know, it’s incredibly irresponsible to cast baseless claims on something that might help control mosquitoes at this time. That’s putting people at risk for more bites.

    Oh, for skeptics, there’s also a good response from experts on this today: \https://www.scimex.org/newsfeed/expert-reaction-is-a-pesticide,-not-zika-virus,-causing-microcephaly [escaping the link hoping not to get put into moderation.]

    PS: Orac–people that I have sent over here are complaining to me about the spirochete item that appears on posts here lately. NSFW: \http://screencast.com/t/e1dqi77Gs2zH Is it possible to suppress that?

  10. #10 c0nc0rdance
    February 15, 2016

    I think you’re being a little harsh, Orac. The “larvacide theory” isn’t a conspiracy theory, it’s an alternative hypothesis, one that doesn’t match as many observations as the Zika hypothesis, but there are many chemicals that are potentially teratogenic. It’s not outlandish, and the fact that Monsanto is involved in its manufacture is simply because they’re one of a handful of companies that make chemicals for environmental use.

    So long as we suspend judgment until sufficient evidence is presented, I can’t fault people for questioning. Given the distribution of traits that fall under microcephaly, I’m not convinced that this is going to be simple causation; and it may be that combinations of risk factors (diet, stress, cofactor and Zika) will produce the outcome in question.

    In the early days of HIV/AIDS, questioning the virus hypothesis wasn’t denialism because so much was still not known. It was the refusal to accept evidence, even after it was confirmed multiple times, that marked people like Peter Duesberg as dogmatic pseudoscientists.

  11. #11 c0nc0rdance
    February 15, 2016

    I was a low-level intern at the Texas Dept. of Health back in 1992 (I carried a clipboard door to door, if that gives you the right mental picture). We investigated a case series of NTD/anencephalies, babies born without brain structures, along the Texas-Mexico border. The working theory at the time was that the opening of factories on the Mexico side of the Rio Grande in anticipation of NAFTA, enacted in late 1993, produced contamination of well water with heavy metals. Heavy metal toxicology is a known, clear risk for neural tube defects.

    What was actually found was a complex system of nutrition, disease, stress, lack of medical care, and exposure to corn mold. The TDH started a birth defects registry that included a mandate to monitor birth defect clusters. Since the 1991/92 investigation, there have been at least 30 reported NTD clusters investigated, most of them in the same region, the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

    What I’m trying to say here is that a healthy skepticism (here defined as suspension of drawing conclusions) is a good thing. Zika may not be acting alone, and the introduction of a larvacide, while on its own is not sufficient, could still be a component cause in disease.

  12. #12 c0nc0rdance
    February 15, 2016

    I’m certainly not an anti-Monsanto type of person, but I just wanted to point out that the “Big 6” pesticide manufacturers make up 68% of the world’s supply of pesticides. Syngenta at 18%, Bayer at 17%, Monsanto at 10%, Dow and BASF tied at 9%… In 2013, Monsanto made a failed attempt to buy Syngenta for 40 billion USD, which would have given them roughly 1/3rd of the world pesticide market. As I understand it, both parties are trying to revive the process, to the chagrin of federal regulators.

    it’s not surprising that any given chemical used to control pests is being made by Monsanto. They’re not evil, they’re just huge.

  13. #13 Orac
    February 15, 2016

    Did you read the actual report? Seriously, did you read it? Did you investigate the group issuing it?

    No one says questioning is a bad thing, but this report screams conspiracy theory with Monsanto products being used and the government covering it up by blaming the problem on something else (Zika virus). It is very much like several other conspiracy theories I have seen. Asking questions is fine, but if you’re going to do it based on a report like this then you deserve the criticism you get for making assertions that don’t even have biological plausibility based on what we know.

    I stand by every word (even the typos, which I will get around to fixing).

  14. #14 c0nc0rdance
    February 15, 2016

    @Orac

    I must apologize, I had not read the actual statement, just the reporting on it, until your link. It is ghastly, and frankly laughable. I see it delves into politics and some bizarre recapitulation theory a la biogenetic law.

    I retract my objection that you are being too harsh in classifying this as conspiracy theory. I can smell the tinfoil hats through my monitor.

  15. #15 Mary M
    United States
    February 15, 2016

    I have another item that might help people who find themselves in chatter on this larvacide issue. \http://afludiary.blogspot.com/2016/02/brazil-moh-addresses-larvacide-debate.html

    Unlike the relationship between the Zika virus and microcephaly, which has had its confirmation attested in tests that indicated the presence of the virus in samples of blood, tissue and amniotic fluid, the association between the use of pyriproxifen and microcephaly has no scientific basis. Importantly, some localities that do not use pyriproxifen were also reported cases of microcephaly.

  16. #16 Lawrence
    February 15, 2016

    http://monsantoblog.com/2016/02/13/the-truth-about-monsanto-and-the-zika-virus/

    I guess this would be considered the “official” reply.

  17. #17 darwinslapdog
    The Beagle
    February 15, 2016

    This is the third time I’ve seen microcephaly referred to as “shrunken heads”. Ack! Are these idiots just stupid or being knowingly offensive? (Offensive to the children involved due to their ignorance of the anthropological literature on “shrunken heads”, thus turning the term into an insult–kind of like “cavemen” or “savage”).

  18. #18 Joshua Lutick-Fuller
    February 15, 2016
  19. #19 Pennyworth
    February 15, 2016

    I’m really glad I stumbled over this blogpost! I also came across this conspiracy theory – but unlike all the hysterical nonsense about out-of-control genetically altered mosquito experiments,bioweapons testing and vaccination plots which are pretty easy to throw out the window, this one – taking the actual report and how it is written not into account for a moment – did make some sense. Pesticides or insecticides are some serious stuff after all and at least I would not knowingly plunge my cup into contaminated drinking water and happly gulp it down, even if I am told that it is totally harmless. So it could have been a factor indeed – an alternative hypothesis as c0nc0rdance mentioned.

    It is also not too far fetched to assume the Ministry of Health in Brazil, a country that is regularily rated to be one of the most corrupt countries in the Americas on Corruption Indices, would try to cover up some irresponsible practice of dumping tons of pesticides into the water supply, triggering just another environmental scandal. Things like that happened before. Or Monsanto (or whatever company is selling the stuff) trying to avoid the classaction-avalanche that would probaly roll over them if anything like a microcephaly-epidemic could be blamed on their product. (Although, on second thought, it would have been a pretty stupid cover up-plan, if you inform the WHO about the situation and call for international help.)

    I was lucky though. I did not come in contact with the thing through George Takeis tweet or some newssite reporting about it, but through a post of a professional, die-hard old-school conspiracy theorist, who glady took that report up and incorporating it into his grand conspiracy moasic of depopulation plots, big pharma vaccination schemes, mainstream media deceiving campaigns and the WHO spreading fear on purpose – Slogan: The Zika virus is clearly a hoax – look, even doctors say there might be another perfect explanation for it!!!” – and providing a link to a report about the report. Well, so far, so fishy. Still, as I said, it did sound not too way off somehow, even if anything that might disprove the new “hypothesis” (like mentioning that it is just that) was left out …and I mean, it came from a board of doctors after all. I was not convinced, but also not sure. Or in other words: My knowledge about the subject was not good enough to simply dismiss the thing as another wild outbreak from the fringe. And then I stumbled over this article. Thanks Scienceblog and Orac, for providing assistance. Keep up the good work! 🙂

    PS: I do not know what else George Takei is tweeting when the day is long. But I think I’ll forgive him this time. Maybe he was just feeling like I did. Unfortunately without doing some research of his own before trumpeting out “the news”. But in that he is certainly not the only one.

  20. #20 Helianthus
    February 15, 2016

    @ Denice Walter

    [quoting Mike Adams] DOCTORS and NURSES cause illness and death therefore, avoid them

    Eh, people who are sick are usually spending time in close proximity to one healthcare worker or another. Stand to reason they are somehow responsible.

    Adams reminds me a bit of Junior Postmaster Tolliver Groats, from Terry Pratchett’s novel Going Postal.*
    Does anyone know if Mike is pouring sulfur in his socks and charcoal down his pants? Just in case, keep him away from open flames.

    * Except that Tolliver is more funny, and also a lot more honest.

  21. #21 Richthofen
    February 15, 2016

    I’m really glad I stumbled over this blogpost! I also came across this conspiracy theory – but unlike all the hysterical nonsense about out-of-control genetically altered mosquito experiments,bioweapons testing and vaccination plots which are pretty easy to throw out the window, this one – taking the actual report and how it is written not into account for a moment – did make some sense. Pesticides or insecticides are some serious stuff after all and at least I would not knowingly plunge my cup into contaminated drinking water and happly gulp it down, even if I am told that it is totally harmless. So it could have been a factor indeed – an alternative hypothesis as c0nc0rdance mentioned.

    It is also not too far fetched to assume the Ministry of Health in Brazil, a country that is regularily rated to be one of the most corrupt countries in the Americas on Corruption Indices, would try to cover up some irresponsible practice of dumping tons of pesticides into the water supply, triggering just another environmental scandal. Things like that happened before. Or Monsanto (or whatever company is selling the stuff) trying to avoid the classaction-avalanche that would probaly roll over them if anything like a microcephaly-epidemic could be blamed on their product. (Although, on second thought, it would have been a pretty stupid cover up-plan, if you inform the WHO about the situation and call for international help.)

    I was lucky though. I did not come in contact with the thing through George Takeis tweet or some newssite reporting about it, but through a post of a professional, die-hard old-school conspiracy theorist, who glady took that report up and incorporating it into his grand conspiracy moasic of depopulation plots, big pharma vaccination schemes, mainstream media deceiving campaigns and the WHO spreading fear on purpose – Slogan: The Zika virus is clearly a hoax – look, even doctors say there might be another perfect explanation for it!!!” – and providing a link to a report about the report. Well, so far, so fishy. Still, as I said, it did sound not too way off somehow, even if anything that might disprove the new “hypothesis” (like mentioning that it is just that) was left out …and I mean, it came from a board of doctors after all. I was not convinced, but also not sure. Or in other words: My knowledge about the subject was not good enough to simply dismiss the thing as another wild outbreak from the fringe. And then I stumbled over this article. Thanks Scienceblog and Orac, for providing assistance. Keep up the good work! 🙂

    PS: I do not know what else George Takei is tweeting when the day is long. But I think I’ll forgive him this time. Maybe he was just feeling like I did. Unfortunately without doing some research of his own before trumpeting out “the news”. But in that he is certainly not the only one.

  22. #22 Helianthus
    February 15, 2016

    @ Mary M

    That’s putting people at risk for more bites.

    I believe you know this, but just to be clear for the casual reader:
    Down there in South America, mosquitoes are vectors of various nasty diseases. Malaria is a good example; just 3 generations back, mosquitoes and malaria were also an issue for us privileged Europeans and North Americans.
    So yeah, there are some good reasons to want to keep mosquito populations in low numbers.

  23. #23 Richthofen
    February 15, 2016

    @Lawrence: Yes, that it would be. Do not try to convince some conspiracy theorist with that one. I have to say that it has a bit of an unfortunate title though. “The truth about Monsanto and the Zika virus” almost sounds like as if it was written by conspiracy theorists themselves.

  24. #24 Jazzlet
    February 15, 2016

    Every time I see ‘shrunken heads’ it reminds me of my childhood visits to the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford. We always rushed to look at the shrunken heads before we looked at anything else.

  25. #25 Gilbert
    February 15, 2016

    Golly, Lawrence #16.

    Plantiff: Monsanto murdered our children.

    Defendant: No I (corporate personhood status) didn’t. Nor did I do anything outside the law when I ‘modified’ all those people in Anniston, Alabama…

    I’ve still not stopped pointing my finger at Dow and those who have been flinging Dow’s Enlist Duo/w 2,4-d on everything and everybody pretty fast and furiously. It is purported to be ‘low volatility’. I don’t think that is a valid claim in a country as humid as Brazil; When the fog comes up and the wind is light, my bananna plants look like runny Salvador Dalis or streaky, water-damaged, water-color Van Goghs.

    In the near future, we may well here Monsanto declare “I didn’t do it this time; Dow did.”

  26. #26 Jazzlet
    February 15, 2016

    Come to that I still do this as an adult …

  27. #27 Richthofen
    February 15, 2016

    @Lawrence: Yes, that it would. Do not try to convince some old-school conspiracy theorist with that one. 😀 I think that it uses a bit of an unfortunate title though. “The truth about Monsanto and the Zika virus” sounds exactly like something conspiracy theorists would choose as a headline for their own message. Maybe “Some facts about Monsanto and the Zika virus” or similiar would have been better? Less sensationalistic at least. Too many “truths” flying around out there trying to get sold already. Just my opinion, of course.

  28. #28 Sam
    February 15, 2016

    This is what you would call, a Reversed Stopped Clock Moment.

  29. #29 Richthofen
    February 15, 2016

    Sorry for the double posts 23 and 27. The first took so long that I thought it to be lost or rejected for some reason.

  30. #30 Richthofen
    February 15, 2016

    Same for 19 and 21! How embaressing!!

  31. #31 Gilbert
    February 15, 2016

    humans do not make or use sesquiterpenoid hormones (a.k.a. insect juvenile hormones), which is what pyriproxifen targets.

    Is that the case for *all* stages of human development? I note the eidonomy of stages 12-15 of embryonic development. There certainly is an outward *appearance* of mosquito larvae-like features.

    https://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php/Embryonic_Development#Week_4

    If it bears out that proteins of genetically modified organisms survive digestion and are incorporated into the developing fetus, as some contend, can it be said for certain that there is not some extra impetus for epigenetic expression of this additional code?

    A chemically synthesised ceropin B gene, usually found in the giant silk moth (Hyalophora cecropia), has been introduced into tomato plants and in vivo studies show significant resistance to bacterial wilt and bacterial spot.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_tomato#Pest_resistance

    Approved, or not; Who knows what actual ‘escaped’ genetic copywright is flying around down there — I hear that Seth Brundle was particulary well welcomed within most all Brazilian brothels. Just sayin’.

  32. #32 Michael J. Dochniak
    Iowa
    February 15, 2016

    A bit off topic but Dr. McCoy should be immortalized here at RI.:

    In Star Trek II (The Wrath of Khan) the conversation goes:

    James T. Kirk: [still suffering from the vaccine] My mouth is itchy. Is that normal?

    Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy: Well, those symptoms won’t last long. I’m going to give you a mild sedative.

    James T. Kirk: Oh, I wish I didn’t know you.

    Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy: Don’t be such an infant.
    [He jabs Kirk with a hypodermic needle]

    James T. Kirk: OWW! How long’s it supposed to…
    [he suddenly collapses on the bed]

    Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy: [Shaking his head] Unbelievable.

    http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0001514/quotes

  33. #33 Chris
    February 15, 2016

    Richthofen, comments by new people are held in moderation for a while as a way to reduce spam. After the first is approved you are good to go as long as you do not change names or email.

  34. #34 Michael J. Dochniak
    Iowa
    February 15, 2016

    Chris says (#31),

    …comments by new people are held in moderation for a while as a way to reduce spam. After the first is approved you are good to go as long as you do not change names or email.

    MJD says,

    Furthermore, if your passionate and persistent about vaccine safety Orac may place you on instant moderation.

    @Orac,

    Please release me from the “instant moderation” brig.

  35. #35 Gilbert
    February 15, 2016

    After the first is approved you are good to go as long as you do not change names or email.

    Not entirely true, Chris #31… After one gets on some kind of *probation* here, even if it wasn’t racist bile, there is never any getting off automatic moderate which sometimes delays a comment for the most part of a day or two.

  36. #36 herr doktor bimler
    February 15, 2016

    DW, #5:
    Sure. Fraser writes about witchcraft as the cause of death prior to general belief in naturalistic causes:
    Don’t forget Evans-Pritchard!

    “…if, in fact, any failure or misfortune falls upon any one at any time and in relation to any of the manifold activities of his life it may be due to witchcraft.”

    It is fortunate that everyone in the modern world has left those primitive patterns of thought long behind.

  37. #37 herr doktor bimler
    February 15, 2016

    Blockquotes broken! It must be Witchcraft!

  38. […] We also need to realize that pesticides aren’t inherently bad. They’re simply tools to help us enjoy food that’s not infested with bugs. There are guidelines for utilizing pesticides that are established based upon thorough scientific research so they can be responsibly used. You can read up more about the research done on this specific pesticide and several other reasons Tech Times assumption is not fact here. […]

  39. #39 Jazzlet
    February 15, 2016

    Gilbert @ #31
    Ontology does NOT recapitulate phylongeny.

  40. #40 herr doktor bimler
    February 15, 2016

    In other news, more crap anti-vaccine piece of mendacity (Tomljenovic, Shaw, Shoenfeld) withdrawn for as-yet-unspecified omissions.

  41. #41 Chemmomo
    I even doubled check your IMBD link,and you're still wrong
    February 15, 2016

    MJD @32

    If you can’t tell the difference between the original series/movies and the JJ Abrams version, there’s no hope for you.

    Claiming to be from Iowa obviously did not help you distinguish between DeForest Kelly and Karl Urban.

    Perhaps you should actually watch the films before attempting to quote them.

  42. #42 MarkN
    February 15, 2016

    ha ha, didn’t see that when I initially read it, nice catch…total trekkie fail

  43. #43 Chemmomo
    It just always has to be the vaccines, eh?
    February 15, 2016

    P.S. MjD @ 32
    I’d wager both William Shatner and the late Ricardo Montalban have a bone to pick with you as well.

    For shame.

  44. #44 Michael J. Dochniak
    Iowa
    February 15, 2016

    @Chemmomo (#41, #43),

    My apologies 🙂

    @Orac,

    Since I’m on automatic moderate, and if you have the time, could you please check the accuracy of my posts henceforth?

    I’d do it for you if our situations were reversed.

  45. #45 justthestats
    February 15, 2016

    @Gilbert:

    humans do not make or use sesquiterpenoid hormones (a.k.a. insect juvenile hormones), which is what pyriproxifen targets.

    Is that the case for *all* stages of human development?

    You are lucky! That information is available to you for free on the Internet! Just go to one of the several available genome databases, and look up the sequence of the insect juvenile hormone of your choice. Then run a homolog search to see if there are any similar genes in humans. If you are, you can then search to find out where and when they are expressed.

    Have fun!

    If it bears out that proteins of genetically modified organisms survive digestion

    *sigh*, what possible mechanism could the proteases use to distinguish that the proteins were translated from RNA that was transcribed by DNA that was inserted using genetic engineering techniques many copies before so that they would know not to catabolize them?

    and are incorporated into the developing fetus, as some contend,

    Now they’re given superpowers to cross the placental barrier as well? Whoever is contending this should take a freshman biology course.

    can it be said for certain that there is not some extra impetus for epigenetic expression of this additional code?

    Additional code? Proteins are not code for anything. Some proteins play epigentic roles, but not ones that we splice into things, and if proteins from things we ate or were exposed to environmentally could get through all the barriers to the inside of the nucleus and cause problems they would have done so long before we invented genetic engineering.

  46. #46 BA
    Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
    February 15, 2016

    I’m actually very concerned about Zika. I, and both my kids, have significant reaction to mosquito bites. And have had complications with them, this virus (and several others like EEE and west nile) worries me.

  47. #47 Graham
    United Kingdom
    February 15, 2016

    The very nature of vaccines is to meddle with, and trigger, the bodies immune system. 1 hamburger is safe, but if you ate a dozen at once, your stomach would probably rupture.

    You say no mice had “no-observed-adverse-effect level”, but did not state whether microcephaly had an adequate metric.

    Equally you did not say that there had been signs of microcephali in mice infected with Zika, so it can only be assumed to be presumed.

    If there is a cause other than Zika, the compensation claims (and rep) would destroy a large company. Motive enough, for several people to break the law, or bend it a little, here and there.

  48. #48 Helianthus
    February 15, 2016

    @ justthestats

    Whoever is contending this should take a freshman biology course.

    Seconded.
    Spock, Sulu & co were much better at speaking technobabble.

    if proteins from things we ate or were exposed to environmentally could get through all the barriers to the inside of the nucleus and cause problems

    I would suggest people worried about this sort of thing to stop eating carrots. With all the bits of carrot proteins stuck in their innards, they may start to attract killer rabbits.

  49. […] drüben in den Scienceblogs (der das Ganze knallhart als Verschwörungstheorie einsortiert), hat sich in seinem Blog ausführlich mit der Frage befasst, wie plausibel die These mit dem Pestizid… und wie das mit Mikrozephalie und Zika aussieht. Das ist gut, dann muss ich das nicht […]

  50. #50 MarkN
    February 15, 2016

    BA — the greater of your concern probably won’t be the virus, but of developing Guillian-Barre which is uncommon, about 1-2 cases per 100,000 per year. But, if you have a hypersensitive immune-mediated predisposition, maybe more to your point. Majority of adults cases in general are self-resolving with supportive care, but not all. About 4-5% adults still die despite adequate intensive supportive care, obviously a worse prognostic factor is becoming ventilator dependent. Kids actually do a bit better than adults in recovery.

    The biggest preventative is avoiding Aedes environments, and following personal protection guidelines if in/traveling into that environment. Discussion with your health care provider and reviewing info on the CDC website (or similar agency if in another country than the States).

  51. #51 Old Rockin' Dave
    In my secret lab with John Carradine.
    February 15, 2016

    They’re all wrong. Chemtrails are a lie. What they thought was a cloud of poison is really a cloud of infected Anopheles mosquitoes.
    I warned them, but they wouldn’t listen. They called me a madman, but I knew the real truth! Fools! Now they’ll pay! They’ll suffer and die but I won’t raise a hand to help them!
    Oh, hold on, they’re coming around with the meds. I hope today I get the pink one. I love the pink one. It makes me feel so floaty.

  52. #52 Narad
    February 15, 2016

    Importantly, some localities that do not use pyriproxifen were also reported cases of microcephaly.

    I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s been quite unclear to me that Brazil even uses PPF for urban mosquito abatement (it’s not mentioned here) rather than as an agrochemical. Any pesticide hypothesis would seem to have be able to connect with the favelas. (Brazil does seem to have pretty good coverage of prenatal care, but I’d have to dig that one back up. Maybe after I finally have coffee.)

  53. #53 Narad
    February 15, 2016

    ^ OK, apparently it is used to treat water. Rio Grande do Sul, which has been little affected (it’s the one at the bottom) has suspended use of PPF.

  54. #54 herr doktor bimler
    February 15, 2016

    The very nature of vaccines is to meddle with

    Graham, you’re sounding like a Scoobie-Doo villain. “I’d have got away with all that morbidity and mortality, if it weren’t for you meddling scientists!”

  55. #55 Narad
    February 15, 2016

    ^^ And I would have figured this out sooner had I read the Scimex item that Mary M included above.

  56. #56 Joe Hanson
    February 15, 2016

    While Mr. Takei’s post is verifiably BS, it’s important to remain open to the possibility that ZIKV and microcephaly might not be causally linked, at least not without some other confounding factors. This paper is still in open peer review, but raises significant questions about true rates of microcephaly in Brazil before and after 2015: http://www.who.int/bulletin/online_first/16-170639.pdf

    Another open question: Why hasn’t Colombia seen an increase in microcephaly despite similar Zika infection?

  57. #57 Narad
    February 15, 2016

    1 hamburger is safe, but if you ate a dozen at once, your stomach would probably rupture.

    So much for this peculiar premise.

  58. #58 Sassy
    February 15, 2016

    Thanks for this. Now, I am off to email a news channel to issue a correction for their Zika conspiracy video.

    I hope they actually bother to correct their video.

  59. #59 Gray Squirrel
    February 16, 2016

    Re. appropriate dosage levels of insecticides:

    This reminds me of the controversy over Nestle infant formula some decades ago. The formula itself was harmless, but when introduced to countries where contaminated drinking water was common and educational levels were low, two things happened: 1) Formula was prepared with dirty water, leading to infant illnesses, and 2) formula was diluted way beyond manufacturer’s recommendation, leading to infant malnutrition.

    And, we all know the common layperson error of thinking that if a recommended dose of medicine is good, then a much higher dose must be “much better.”

    So I’m wondering if it might be possible that insecticides that are ordinarily “safe and effective when used as directed” could have been misused, for example by accidentally or deliberately using much greater quantities than recommended.

    I don’t buy into the crap that recommended dosage levels of insecticides are responsible for the observed levels of microcephaly. And I’m inclined to think that some of the heightened microcephaly stats might be due to heightened awareness and reporting. But it should be possible to test for insecticide levels in known reservoir organisms to ascertain if a high-dose event might have occurred at some point. If not, then that hypothesis can be put to rest.

    Meanwhile, any efforts at mosquito control are always good: even if the microcephaly outbreak is 100% a reporting artifact, and Zika (etc.) have nothing to do with it, Dengue and chikungunya are sufficient reasons in and of themselves, for major mosquito control efforts.

    Re. George Takei: CT runs and facts walk, so it will take some time to catch up with the effects of his falling for nonsense. But one way to go about this would be to make clear that he himself is not a public health scientist, and people should look to public health scientists for their information on Zika, the microcephaly outbreak, etc.

    Re. Old Rockin’ Dave @51: Hah. Good one.

  60. #60 Stacy
    February 16, 2016

    Microcephaly cases in Brazil predate Zika virus outbreak, study says
    Cases may have been under-reported before the arrival of the virus
    CBC News Posted: Feb 10, 2016 5:03 PM ET Last Updated: Feb 13, 2016 4:12 PM ET

  61. […] et le Pyriproxyfène est écrasante tandis que d’autres estiment que c’est une théorie du complot. L’OMS insiste que le Pyriproxyfène est sans aucun danger dans l’eau potable […]

  62. #62 Ma
    February 16, 2016

    @Joe on 56 — A couple possibilities, awareness/failure in reporting, and the virus hitting Brazil is a different mutation than what had been endemic to the region for decades. Your assumption of similar zika infection may not actually be the case. They could be different and possible we could see an increase. It would help to see other neural tissue in similar fetal/perinatal demise cases to find out if the mutated zikv is also found.

  63. #63 MI Dawn
    February 16, 2016

    First, ORD gets many internets for his comment at #51.

    Second: MJD: your Idee fixe has little or nothing to do with vaccine safety and everything to do with your own conspiracy theory about latex. Because you brought it up in season and out, you were placed on moderation. Please don’t try to convince new commentors that you are auto-moderation for any other reason but that.

    Richthofen: Orac does not put people in moderation (except the new person first time approval needed moderation) lightly. MJD was warned multiple times and ignored the warning. Very few people have been banned from commenting here. Orac moderates with a very light hand.

  64. #64 Dangerous Bacon
    February 16, 2016

    Graham: “If there is a cause other than Zika, the compensation claims (and rep) would destroy a large company. Motive enough, for several people to break the law, or bend it a little, here and there.”

    This is how we know that alt cancer cures (laetrile, Hoxsey, Rife etc.) actually work despite their having been “debunked”. The financial ruin that would strike the Cancer Industry is motive enough to influence the “science” involved.

    Connect…the…dots………………………..dots…………………….dots……dots…………………………………………………………………dots…………………………………………………………dots……………………………………………………………………dots………………………………………………………………..

  65. #65 Michael J. Dochniak
    Iowa
    February 16, 2016

    MI IDawn says (#63),

    …conspiracy theory about latex.

    MJD says,

    It’s less a conspiracy and more an exposed racket.

    Specifically, natural rubber latex used in the medical field (e.g., vaccine packaging, surgical gloves) can induce allergies which thereafter increase sales of allergy medication…enough said.

    @Brian Deer,

    Here’s a legitimate story to bring balance to investigative reporting on vaccine safety.

  66. #66 Gilbert
    getting fired for treating the National Aquarium jellyfish habitat with Pyriproxyfen so they wouldn't get Zika
    February 16, 2016

    You are lucky! That information is available to you for free on the Internet!

    Thx, justthestats #45. I did not know that.

    can it be said for certain that there is not some extra impetus for epigenetic expression of this additional code?

    I can’t believe I said that; Looking back, it does sound rather silly. However, I note that a search of “fish homolog human development”** might lend one to believe that we’re made up off all sorts of fishy bits which are expressed from time to time. Why, just this morning I was reading a DailyFail article whereby

    scientists at the University of Sheffield have discovered that the same network of genes that allow sharks to regrow teeth is present in humans.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3444505/Could-regrow-teeth-like-SHARKS-Humans-genes-used-predatory-fish-repeatedly-renew-gnashers.html

    Pyriproxyfen is practically non-toxic to birds or mammals. It is highly toxic to fish and freshwater invertebrates, and very highly toxic to marine invertebrates. Freshwater fish reproduction is affected at low ppb concentrations. Freshwater invertebrate reproduction is affected at low part per trillion concentrations

    http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/insect-mite/mevinphos-propargite/pyriproxyfen/esteem_mcl_0301.html

    ** http://www.google.com/search?q=fish+homolog+human+development

  67. #67 Delphine
    lots of snow!
    February 16, 2016

    This reminds me of the controversy over Nestle infant formula some decades ago.

    Nestle (and others of their ilk) continue to violate the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. The initial controversy surfaced in the early 70s, but the dismal lack of ethics persists.

    Since I’m on automatic moderate, and if you have the time, could you please check the accuracy of my posts henceforth?

    While you’re at it, Orac, my front walk needs shoveling, as does my driveway. I’d do it for you if our situations were reversed.

  68. #68 MarkN
    February 16, 2016

    While you’re out erranding for the minions, I’d also like to request a two-shot cafe mocha, no whip cream. Thanks Orac.

  69. #69 BA
    Soggy
    February 16, 2016

    @MarkN, thanks for the info. I have kept up with CDC and WHO coverage. Not sure that I’m much comforted by it but it isn’t stopping me from travelling just being more careful. And make mine an espresso.

  70. #70 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    February 16, 2016

    Gray Squirrel:

    So I’m wondering if it might be possible that insecticides that are ordinarily “safe and effective when used as directed” could have been misused, for example by accidentally or deliberately using much greater quantities than recommended.

    Wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Certainly we know that’s happening with fertilizer in parts of the world where that has recently become available. China, for instance, has farmers using orders of magnitude more fertilizer than their fields require; it does them no good to put on more, but their parents grew up with a dismal hand-to-mouth existence, and so they will hedge every bet they can to make sure that their farms are as productive as humanly possible. I’d be stunned if the same thing doesn’t happen with pesticides.

  71. #71 Patrick Cahel
    Washington, DC
    February 16, 2016

    1) Arthropods are not insects. Insects are arthropods.

    2) Pseudoscience is saying that Zika Virus caused microencephaly without having done any scientific studies to show this.

    3) Doctors are not scientists.

    4) What is the historic correlation between microcephaly and the use of pyriproxyfen?

    5) Where is the microcephaly in Columbia.

    6) Science Blogs should hold itself to higher standards.

  72. #72 Orac
    February 16, 2016

    1. I know that. You caught a late night writing oversight. Congratulations. It happens sometimes when I’m in a hurry writing and don’t get back to proofread multiple times.

    2. Except that there is reasonable scientific evidence to suspect that Zika virus does cause microcephaly, which I described and also pointed out that it wasn’t slam-dunk.

    3. But I am a scientist as well as a surgeon. I have an MD and a PhD, have published original papers in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, and have been the PI on an R01 grant as well as several others

    4. There has been none that we are aware of. That’s kind of the point.

    5. Who knows?

    6. New commenters should try not to make their first comments too embarrassing. Unfortunately, you failed.

  73. #73 Denice Walter
    February 16, 2016

    re conspiracy theories..

    After listening to about 10 minutes of Mikey’s latest audio at NaturalNews, I decided to look at his newly resurrected news target.com site: supposedly, he’ll keep NN about health and the other festering swamp about politics
    HOWEVER I believe that he has difficulty separating categories because both are rife with political rants AND alt med nonsense.
    It’s all about creating room for ads I imagine.

  74. #74 Helianthus
    February 16, 2016

    @ Patrick Cahel

    5) Where is the microcephaly in Columbia.

    I have another one for you:

    7) Where is the microcephaly in Washington, DC?

    Pyriproxyfen has been in use in the US since 1994.

  75. #75 herr doktor bimler
    February 16, 2016

    7) Where is the microcephaly in Washington, DC?

    Let us not stoop to cheap jokes about Congress.

  76. #76 justthestats
    February 16, 2016

    @Graham:

    The very nature of vaccines is to meddle with, and trigger, the bodies immune system.

    “Meddle” is an interesting choice of terms. I prefer the “target practice” analogy myself. Target practice is a great way to meddle with the ability of solders to hit their targets in certain conditions in the exact same way that immunizations are a great way to meddle with the ability of the immune system to hit its targets in certain conditions.

    1 hamburger is safe, but if you ate a dozen at once, your stomach would probably rupture.

    I’m going to guess the sphincters would be the weakest link, and that reflux and vomiting would be much more likely than a stomach rupture. I’m not going to try it out to find out what happens.

    I’m guessing you’re trying to do a “too many too soon” argument here, in which case I’ll just point out that eating “1 hamburger” contains more kinds of things that trigger the immune system, and in much larger amounts. So we know that the immune system is far from overwhelmed by a few shots at once.

    You say no mice had “no-observed-adverse-effect level”, but did not state whether microcephaly had an adequate metric.

    Equally you did not say that there had been signs of microcephali in mice infected with Zika, so it can only be assumed to be presumed.

    You’ve never met a toxicologist if you think they would miss something as relatively obvious as microcephaly. They are very obsessive about even small differences between the controls and the treatment groups.

    But to assuage your fears, that summary seems to be referencing this paper, which gives more details about its methods and is full of statements like “There were no treatment-related increases in the incidences of external, visceral, or skeletal anomalies.” for different treatment groups. (Obviously, for groups that did have anomalies, they would describe the anomalies instead.) Microcephaly would be a skeletal and a visceral anomaly, so it would be listed. One of the techniques they used to find liver anomalies, comparing organ weights, would clearly have found microcephaly, since microcephalic brains are lighter. They also did behavioral comparisons that would be likely to indicate neurological differences if they existed.

    If there is a cause other than Zika, the compensation claims (and rep) would destroy a large company. Motive enough, for several people to break the law, or bend it a little, here and there.

    Not motive for the public health service to blame something else, though, and it seems especially bad if you’re trying to cover something up to declare that you think it’s caused by some exciting rare new disease and ask the world’s experts for help in learning more about it and fighting it.

    Besides, there aren’t that many confirmed cases of microcephaly above the background rate so far. Companies that big have survived far greater liability.

  77. #77 JP
    February 16, 2016

    After listening to about 10 minutes of Mikey’s latest audio at NaturalNews, I decided to look at his newly resurrected news target.com site: supposedly, he’ll keep NN about health and the other festering swamp about politics

    I’ve seriously laid off my hate-lurking at NN, I don’t think it’s good for my mental health, personally.

    Alex Jones and those other conspiracy weirdos, too. It’s entertaining, but really stupid, and I have better things to do with my limited time here on Earth.

    Maybe one of these days when I’m on vacation I’ll pay a visit.

  78. #78 justthestats
    February 16, 2016

    @Patrick Cahel:

    5) Where is the microcephaly in Columbia.

    Brazil has 4653% more Zika cases than Columbia. That makes an increase in microcephaly over the background rate a lot easier to spot. There is also a bit of evidence that suggests that Brazil has a particularly nasty strain in the hardest hit areas, but it’s hardly conclusive.

  79. #79 MarkN
    February 16, 2016

    Just thinking off the top of my head, why can’t they just take the Enterprise out, swing around the sun, go back into the past, and grab an Aedes species without the virus??
    ….I’m just saying, it worked before with the whales.

  80. #80 Darwy
    Scandinavia
    February 16, 2016
  81. #81 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    February 16, 2016

    No cheap jokes about Congress?

    But what else are they good for?

    😛

  82. #82 shay simmons
    February 16, 2016

    <II prefer the “target practice” analogy myself.

    Tactically, it’s more like a raid to probe enemy defenses, but I defer to any grunts in the group.

  83. #83 JP
    February 16, 2016

    but I defer to any grunts in the group.

    Standing at attention, generally speaking.

    You know, when I don’t have better things to do.

    😉

  84. #84 justthestats
    February 16, 2016

    @Gilbert:

    You are lucky! That information is available to you for free on the Internet!

    Thx, justthestats #45. I did not know that.

    Here’s a good place to start, then:
    http://www.uniprot.org/uniprot/Q206L4

    That’s just one (but an important one) of the thirteen genes necessary to synthesize it according to this paper:
    https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jaime_Mayoral/publication/51110171_A_coordinated_expression_of_biosynthetic_enzymes_controls_the_flux_of_juvenile_hormone_precursors_in_the_Corpora_allata_of_mosquitoes/links/00b4952b39729edcb5000000.pdf

  85. #85 Craig Thomas
    February 16, 2016

    “I just saw that Monsanto put out a statement to refute this particular conspiracy theory….”
    – Well, they *woud* say that, wouldn’t they…

    “darwinslapdog

    The Beagle
    February 15, 2016
    This is the third time I’ve seen microcephaly referred to as “shrunken heads”. Ack! Are these idiots just stupid or being knowingly offensive? (Offensive to the children involved due to their ignorance of the anthropological literature on “shrunken heads”, thus turning the term into an insult–kind of like “cavemen” or “savage”).”

    GFG!… Stephen Fry wrote about you on his blog post dated 15/2. Look it up and don’t do it again.

  86. #86 Craig Thomas
    February 16, 2016

    Just asking a Question – but how many normal, healthy babies born recently in Brazil have been tested to see if they have the Zika virus?

  87. […] Oh, myyyy! George Takei falls for a Zika virus conspiracy theory […]

  88. #88 Dangerous Bacon
    February 16, 2016

    To JAQ further, Craig – how many normal, healthy babies (or their moms) were tested in the ’60s to see if they’d been exposed to rubella virus?

    Would positive results have “refuted” the correlation between rubella and congenital malformations?

  89. #89 jane
    February 16, 2016

    If the region is in the middle of a widespread Zika epidemic, some small fraction of aborted or miscarried fetuses with any birth defect you care to name – or none at all – might well test positive for exposure to Zika. Zika looks suspicious here, but there are three problems: (1) Previous underreporting. Apparently cases started to increase in this region of Brazil, where Zika is said to be uniquely capable of causing microcephaly, before Zika started spreading there. (2) Overreporting during the crisis. Until they were stepped on, the local authorities were reporting every baby with a cranial circumference in what is usually the bottom 10% of the normal distribution as microcephalic. Really, without Zika are 10% of babies microcephalic? (3) Geographic distribution of malformations. The region of Brazil that is the only area reporting huge numbers is unusually chemical-soaked across the board (though there seems to be no rational reason for the focus on this insecticide). Where are the many cases elsewhere? Within the year, if they don’t exist, Zika will have been exonerated.

  90. #90 MarkN
    February 16, 2016

    Possibly. But, the post-mortem cases already presented with neural tissue & genome analyzed, finding a mutated ZIKV is probably the larger of the weight of evidence. Within the year, if more ZIKV is found in other post-mortems, Zika will have been convicted.

  91. #91 Narad
    February 16, 2016

    The region of Brazil that is the only area reporting huge numbers is unusually chemical-soaked across the board

    Citation needed, as usual.

  92. #92 sadmar
    FWIW
    February 16, 2016

    Yesterday I was talking with my young friend J. who’s applying to grad schools to study social media phenomena, trying to impart some advice on the process. In passing, I mentioned Takei as an SM ‘star’ in general, w/o reference to Zika or any other subject. J. responded that Takei has so many irons in the fire, that keeping up the flow of posts on his Twitter and Facebook is mostly handled by interns, and with different meatspace human beings involved in the creation of the ‘George Takei’ web persona, his feeds often contain contradictions between different posts. As the matter was getting OT for the purpose of our chat, I didn’t mention the Zika tweet, or any other subject of ‘Takei’s posts…

    I don’t do Twitter and FB myself, but my impression is that ‘Takei’s feeds consist largely of quick references to a very wide range of info-bits from the Internet that have caught his attention as ‘possibly-interesting-things’ – from weighty to trivial, serious to amusing – and ‘he’ rarely if ever takes a position. I had thought yesterday to suggest that Takei is not JAQing, since as very-much a non-scientist, and likely having just skimmed the piece about pesticides and microcephaly, just asking a sincere question is all he’s in a position to do. Doesn’t the ‘JAQing off’ critique reference a disingenuous rhetorical strategy of framing already-arrived-at conclusion in the form of (rhetorical) guestions, such that when challenged the rhetor can try to back out by saying ‘I’m just asking’, when, in fact, they’re not? If the concept is not limited so, I’d say it should be…

    But tossing in the possibility that the internet persona ‘George Takei’ is a manufactured commercial product – rather than an expression of conventional ‘authentic’ individual authorial voices – kind of muddies the waters of discussion, IMHO, as i sincerely don’t know what to say or think about how misinformation about the microcephaly cases is operating here. The metaphor of ‘viral’ information probably figures here somehow, but that’s as far as I can get today…

  93. #93 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    February 16, 2016

    unusually chemical-soaked across the board

    I bought a board the other day, and suspect it is composed almost entirely of chemicals. Should I be concerned?

  94. #94 Helianthus
    February 16, 2016

    @ shay simmons

    Tactically, it’s more like a raid to probe enemy defenses,

    As I prefer the “target practice” simile, I will jump in and point out that the immune system is defending its own territory. So the raid analogy doesn’t pan out; as the immune cells are not getting out of the body to go spy on the bugs next door.

    I see vaccination as a live-fire exercise with people in disguise pretending to be invading a specific territory and the defenders tasked with holding the line.

    ———————
    Back to zika/pesticides, headlines along on the line of “monsatandidit” are spreading faster than a wildfire as we speak. Pundits cannot restrain themselves from saying the rumor went viral.
    From a PhD student in my group to supposed medically-oriented newspapers, people who should know better are buying the pesticide”theory”. They are completely missing on the part of the pesticide targeting the hormonal system of insects.

    It’s depressing and distressing.

  95. #95 Not a Troll
    February 16, 2016

    Sorry. I have it on the utmost authority that the Zika outbreak was caused by the Pentagon.

  96. […] So in reality Monsanto has nothing to do with any of this, but the antis get their headline: “Argentine physicians claim Monsanto larvicide is true cause of microcephaly.” And Facebook does the rest. […]

  97. […] So in reality Monsanto has nothing to do with any of this, but the antis get their headline: “Argentine physicians claim Monsanto larvicide is true cause of microcephaly.” And Facebook does the rest. […]

  98. […] Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul has reportedly already stopped using the larvicide. Even Star Trek actor George Takei seems to be buying […]

  99. #99 Narad
    February 16, 2016

    The presence of two major amino acid substitutions positioned in nonstructural proteins NS1 and NS4B probably represents an accidental event or indicates a process of eventual adaptation of the virus to a new environment.

    More on these here, BTW.

  100. […] So in reality Monsanto has nothing to do with any of this, but the antis get their headline: “Argentine physicians claim Monsanto larvicide is true cause of microcephaly.” And Facebook does the rest. […]

  101. #101 Kathleen Maltby
    United States
    February 16, 2016

    The Zika outbreak has definitely brought out the conspiracy theorist. So for the pesticide plus the anti vaccine has been the most popular in my news feed. The thing that is bothering me about the whole thing is why only Brazil. The evidence is getting better about Zika causing neuro defects but what about Brazil makes it special. That is what is going to be the most interesting answer to this unfortunate situation. I know in the case of Dengue if you get one serotypes and at a latter date get a different serotypes your second infection is worse not better. If I remember correct Zika is in the same family as Dengue so its very possible that a similar connection may be found. For right now I am going to rely on This Week in Virology podcast to help me keep me updated. For those who want a more indepth discussion TWIV does an excellent job.

  102. […] Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul has reportedly already stopped using the larvicide. Even Star Trek actor George Takei seems to be buying […]

  103. #103 Denice Walter
    February 16, 2016

    @ JP:

    I point to Mikey et compagnie in order to
    – show how alties think
    – cull low hanging fruit for easy laughs
    – play straight man for herr doktor

    But seriously, if you think he’s not good for your well being…
    personally, I used to get angry because of these loons, now I mostly just laugh

    HOWEVER I do think that spreading their ideas and MO across the net is important and serious business so I do it.

  104. […] Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul has reportedly already stopped using the larvicide. Even Star Trek actor George Takei seems to be buying […]

  105. #105 Alain
    February 16, 2016

    @MJD

    Specifically, natural rubber latex used in the medical field (e.g., vaccine packaging, surgical gloves) can induce allergies which thereafter increase sales of allergy medication…enough said.

    Instead of complaining, are you able to work on a suitable replacement for latex? did you train as an engineer with the knowledge necessary to design a replacement material?

    This is what I did, training as a neuroscientist to save my life, first, and get several jobs later on. That said, I dare you to go to the bench designing a replacement for latex. Are you up for the challenge???

    Al

  106. #106 Orac
    February 16, 2016

    I had thought yesterday to suggest that Takei is not JAQing, since as very-much a non-scientist, and likely having just skimmed the piece about pesticides and microcephaly, just asking a sincere question is all he’s in a position to do. Doesn’t the ‘JAQing off’ critique reference a disingenuous rhetorical strategy of framing already-arrived-at conclusion in the form of (rhetorical) guestions, such that when challenged the rhetor can try to back out by saying ‘I’m just asking’, when, in fact, they’re not? If the concept is not limited so, I’d say it should be…

    Maybe, but he basically doubled down later in the comment thread.

  107. #107 Alain
    February 16, 2016

    Appologies to Orac and anyone annoyed by comment #103 but I’m a doers. If a job need to be done, I do it. Period.

    Al

  108. #108 B
    February 16, 2016

    Conspiracy theory? Well…
    I don’t know the literature on the Zika to be able to tell how well the link has been proven but I know one thing – the arguments against Pyriproxyfen as a culprit are pretty weak to say the least:

    a) “Pyriproxyfen was not genotoxic in an adequate range of tests for mutagenicity and cytogenicity in vitro and in vivo. JMPR concluded that pyriproxyfen is not genotoxic.”
    So? It just shows it’s not mutagenic and acutely toxic. Quite irrelevant. Thalidomide is also safe and well tolerated until you give it to pregnant women in which cases babies are born with no arms and legs.

    b) “The reproductive toxicity of pyriproxyfen in rats has been investigated in a two- generation study, a study involving treatment of males and females before and in the early stages of gestation (segment 1) and a study of treatment during the prenatal and lactation periods (segment 3). The NOAEL for maternal toxicity was 1000 mg/kg, equivalent to 98 mg/kg of body weight per day, in the two-generation study and 100 mg/kg of body weight per day in the segment 3 study. Reproductive toxicity was observed only in the segment 3 study, in which there was an increased number of stillbirths in the F0 generation and a reduction in the number of implantations and in the mean number of live fetuses in the F1 generation at 500 mg/kg of body weight per day. The NOAEL for reproductive toxicity was 300 mg/kg of body weight per day. No reproductive toxicity was observed in the two-generation study, the NOAEL being 5000 mg/kg, equivalent to 340 mg/kg of body weight per day, the highest dose tested, or in the segment 1 study, the NOAEL being 1000 mg/kg of body weight per day, the highest dose tested.”
    Again – study looking at toxicity. It’s all good and fine but rodents are very poor models for human microcephaly. Mice with mutations causing microcephaly in humans have quite normal brains so using rodents to screen for microcephaly defects is a bad idea.

    c) “humans do not make or use sesquiterpenoid hormones (a.k.a. insect juvenile hormones), which is what pyriproxifen targets”
    Irrelevant. The fact that we don’t have something that this chemical targets in insects does not mean it doesn’t have off target effects in humans. Or it gets metabolized to something with such effects.

    Again: I don’t want to say I don’t believe the outbreak is caused by a virus, I think it’s quite plausible given the epidemiology data. But it annoys to to no end when people call a valid hypothesis that has yet to be disproven “a conspiracy theory” based mostly on PR bullshit spewed out by the company representatives. Until one can directly show a link to Zika virus (which will also correlate with the presence of disease bearing mosquitos so likely also the pesticide use) there’s nothing wrong in posing alternative explanations.

  109. #109 Narad
    February 16, 2016

    c) “humans do not make or use sesquiterpenoid hormones (a.k.a. insect juvenile hormones), which is what pyriproxifen targets”
    Irrelevant. The fact that we don’t have something that this chemical targets in insects does not mean it doesn’t have off target effects in humans. Or it gets metabolized to something with such effects.

    So, your conclusion that this point is “irrelevant” is based on purest hand-waving? And you have the gall to assert in the very same comment that “arguments against Pyriproxyfen as a culprit are pretty weak to say the least”?

  110. #110 Orac
    February 16, 2016

    Heheh. I was thinking the same thing.

    Then there’s this:

    But it annoys to to no end when people call a valid hypothesis that has yet to be disproven “a conspiracy theory” based mostly on PR bullshit spewed out by the company representatives.

    Um, said exactly no one

    I called this “hypothesis” a conspiracy theory based on the pathetic excuse for “reasoning” and scientific “evidence” used to back it up coupled with the obviously desperate attempt to name Monsanto as one of the culprits. Well, that and the group’s previous activities as revealed on its website, which show a lot of conspiracy theory tendencies.

  111. #111 B
    February 16, 2016

    “So, your conclusion that this point is “irrelevant” is based on purest hand-waving?”

    Nope. I’m just merely pointing out that the studies done on this pesticide are irrelevant to answering the question at hand. Which is specifically “does this compound cause microcephaly in humans?”. Acute toxicology on adults or in vitro does not answer that. Teratology in rodents also isn’t going to give a definite answer since rodents are not good models for microcephaly. Saying that the humans don’t have the specific protein that’s being targeted in insects is also irrelevant because it does not exclude working by a different mechanism in humans.

    In other words none of the claims used to “disprove” the pesticide hypothesis has any power to do so. The only evidence so far comes from epidemiology and I admit I don’t know how good it is in either Zika’s or pesticide’s case. But all the other crap being used to call people conspiracy theorists is just a huge strawman.

  112. #112 B
    February 16, 2016

    “a conspiracy theory based on the pathetic excuse for “reasoning” and scientific “evidence” used to back it up coupled with the obviously desperate attempt to name Monsanto as one of the culprits”

    Really? So far the only evidence for the Zika is epidemiology – there’s a correlation with the presence of the virus and microcephaly. The group claims the same thing about the pesticide. As there likely is also a correlation between the pesticide and Zika it’s hard to discern without really solid epidemiological data. Which I so far have not seen addressed – neither here nor in any other article I’ve read on the matter. All the other studies have dick to do with answering if the pesticide causes a specific neurodevelopmental defect in humans. It’s almost the same as in the case of thalidomide and phocomelia – the drug was also relatively non-toxic and well tolerated in adults and animals – as long as you were not pregnant.

  113. #113 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    February 16, 2016

    Which is specifically “does this compound cause microcephaly in humans?”.

    It’s been used coast to coast and around the world for 10 years or so. Sombody would have noticed all the worldwide microcephalic cases by now.

  114. #114 Orac
    February 16, 2016

    So far the only evidence for the Zika is epidemiology – there’s a correlation with the presence of the virus and microcephaly. The group claims the same thing about the pesticide.

    Now there’s a false equivalency if ever there was one. The epidemiological data linking Zika to microcephaly is being published, as were the case reports finding Zika in the brain tissues of microcephalic fetuses. The doctors claiming that the pesticide is the cause have issued a rambling report with no epidemiology on a crank website and tried to link it to Monsanto even though such a link is incredibly tenuous at best.

  115. #115 Beth
    February 16, 2016

    Pyriproxyfen: something else to add to the discussion. I listened to a workshop about Zika that was held at the National Academy of Sciences today. The physician who has been working in the city of Salvador, Brasil said: PPF has been used mostly in rural areas and that the poor cities up north where the Zika outbreak is cannot afford its cost. It was a non-issue for him and his team.

    Here’s a link to the transcript: It’s very long and a bit laboring to read. Although I learned from all the speakers, I recommend putting a search for “Ko.” He’s the doc who’s been working down there and he pointed to the chronology of events from last year. Said we’ll know by June if the Colombian pregnancies exhibit microcephaly. That there have been an alarming number of still births–a paper will be put out next week.

    Someone discussed maternal inflammation to Zika—along with perhaps co-infection with dengue or chicungunya and how this might magnify and or contribute to the creation of the environment for Zika to cross the placenta.

    http://www.collabchem.com/2016/02/16/an-illustration-of-the-virus-and-summary-of-research-priorities-to-inform-public-health-and-medical-practice-for-domestic-zika-virus-a-workshop/

  116. #116 Beth
    February 16, 2016

    Correction for #115: along with perhaps co-infection with dengue or chicungunya and how this might magnify and or contribute to the creation of the environment for Zika to cross the placenta. Should add that they’re exploring how or if having antibodies to dengue/chicunganya(is there an abbreviation for this one? 😉 from prior infections enhances the maternal inflammation response that let’s Zika get to the fetus.

  117. #117 Narad
    February 16, 2016

    As there likely is also a correlation between the pesticide and Zika it’s hard to discern without really solid epidemiological data.

    Do go on.

  118. #118 capnkrunch
    February 16, 2016

    B@112

    So far the only evidence for the Zika is epidemiology – there’s a correlation with the presence of the virus and microcephaly.

    There’s also the case reports that have demonstrated ZIKV uptake in neural tissue which demonstrates biological plausibility. Your biological plausibility for pyriproxyfen is basically “we can’t be sure it doesn’t”.

    Also, saying that it’s a valid hypothesis based on epidemiological data then admitting that you don’t know enough to evaluate the data kind of invalidates it. The global use of pyriproxyfen without corresponding increases of microencephaly as well as what Beth said in #115:

    The physician who has been working in the city of Salvador, Brasil said: PPF has been used mostly in rural areas and that the poor cities up north where the Zika outbreak is cannot afford its cost.

    does not make for a strong correlation.

    As to everyone saying where is the microencephaly elsewhere with zika outbreaks Darwy shared a link on a case in Colombia back here.

  119. #119 Narad
    February 16, 2016

    Somebody should start using this to seed a rumor that ZIKV is a laboratory escape from human experimentation:

    Let’s start with the basics—how does Zika virus get first into human cells? Hamel et al. (2015) recently explored this question by exposing Zika virus to human skin cells (from adult biopsies and neonatal foreskins) to simulate what happens after exposure to an infected mosquito.

  120. #120 Steve Biggs
    Hitchin, UK
    February 17, 2016

    In his defence he said “if” not “is”!

  121. #121 Russ
    USA
    February 17, 2016

    Each country should compare their notes on these Propaganda Fear Mongering Events. ZIKA Virus owned by the Rockefeller family since 1947.

    For $516 us dollar you can have it sent to you…http://atcc.org
    search on “VR-84” or “ZIKA VIRUS” on the ATCC website.

    Oxitec is the company that created the GM Mosquitos and released them in the everglades of FL. The people in FLORIDA were outraged but the media kept that quite so no one knew.
    Intrexon (XON) a UK company (imagine that), purchased Oxitec. They plan on making billions from the mess that was created.

    Bill Gates foundation funded the effort thru Oxitec, and his foundation will most likely have the vaccine that will contain other targeted DNA altering chemicals to support the NWO or population reduction efforts.

    look for the Jon Rapport link and read the history and everything mainstream media has conveniently left out of the news
    https://twitter.com/SlicksTweetz/status/697326985178025984

  122. #122 LouV
    France
    February 17, 2016

    @Russ #121
    Or perhaps it was “conveniently left out of the news” because it was too ridiculous to be considered ?
    See for example :
    Precedently on this very blog : http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2016/02/05/zika-virus-the-conspiracy-theories-flow-fast-and-furious/
    or here : http://scienceblogs.com/aetiology/2016/02/03/the-zika-conspiracies-have-begun/

  123. #123 Deeterboy
    February 17, 2016

    All i know is that chemicals that deform organisms that they are targeted for have unavoidable consequences for other organisms. The problem with chemicals is that despite what the companies say, they aren’t entirely safe, and they will damage all organic matter. Now for the article, It doesn’t look like a credible source for information, but they are not the only ones talking about it. It also happens that other places where Zika occurred and the larvacide did not, microcephaly was not prevalent in the infant population. Now if we have learned anything from Agent Orange, Monsanto is going to scapegoat, murder, and lie for decades to cover it up until this fizzles out of the public mind.

  124. #124 Delphine
    coffee
    February 17, 2016

    a UK company (imagine that)

    Oh, I don’t think we need to imagine how devious those underhanded bastards can be.

  125. #125 MarkN
    February 17, 2016

    Beth 115 & 116 — “Someone discussed maternal inflammation to Zika—along with perhaps co-infection with dengue or chicungunya and how this might magnify and or contribute to the creation of the environment for Zika to cross the placenta. ”

    “Correction for #115: along with perhaps co-infection with dengue or chicungunya and how this might magnify and or contribute to the creation of the environment for Zika to cross the placenta. Should add that they’re exploring how or if having antibodies to dengue/chicunganya(is there an abbreviation for this one? 😉 from prior infections enhances the maternal inflammation response that let’s Zika get to the fetus.”

    It seems to me that Zika is doing a fine job on its own at crossing the placenta as other TORCH infections. The simplest explanation to me is that the novel mutations found facilitate the recent phenotypic outcomes.

    One virus. And, without reaching for a co-infection or antibodies from a past infection that “enhance maternal inflammation.” Zika seems to be able to do this on its own. But, certainly if they don’t find similar ZIKV in other post mortems, ok.

  126. #126 Helianthus
    February 17, 2016

    @ Deeterboy

    other places where Zika occurred and the larvacide did not, microcephaly was not prevalent in the infant population.

    Not true in some areas of Brasil (see capnkrunch #118).

    Also not true in French Polynesia. We don’t use Pyriproxyfen, but other pesticides. One of them is the Bt toxin, you know, the one also used in organic agriculture.
    And yet, we do have an excess of microcephaly since the mosquito and its virus payload arrived.

    But do go on blaming Monsanto. Just be sure you set fire to the proper building. It’s quite embarrassing, when people of your kind rip off perfectly ordinary crops or burn down a collection of rare orchid species.

  127. #127 Lancelot Link
    February 17, 2016

    @Deeterboy –
    The problem with chemicals is that despite what the companies say, they aren’t entirely safe, and they will damage all organic matter.
    Yeah, you just can’t trust chemicals.
    They make up everything!

  128. #128 Joewv
    Charleston, wv
    February 17, 2016

    Latex manufacture is controlled mainly by mainly Malaysian companies and allergy meds are mainly western companies. Suggesting that somehow these two world regions and all the scientific and medical community are conspiring to sell more allergy medications when only a couple companies would benefit is laughably ridiculous. Also #123, what you’re suggesting is called paralysis by analysis. There’s only so many things you can analyze before you can’t accomplish anything. nothing is entirely safe. One thing we do know that mosquito born illnesses kill millions every year. Malaria alone infects a 1/2 billion people and kills a million.

  129. #129 Wzrd1
    United States
    February 17, 2016

    This subject and the origin of what is indeed a conspiracy theory against Monsanto was covered on “Scientific Parent” by a physician in the endemic area.
    Point of fact (from his writing):
    ” Previous Zika epidemics did not cause birth defects in newborns, despite infecting 75% of the population in those countries. Also, in other countries such as Colombia there are no records of microcephaly; however, there are plenty of Zika cases.”

    This is incorrect: Cases of microcephaly were retrospectively detected in Polynesia. Additionally pyriproxyfen has been used in Colombia since 2010 so if pyriproxyfen was the cause we’d expect to see the same increase there in 2010 and 2011, but that hasn’t happened.”

    ““3. The pyroproxyfen being used (as recommended by WHO) is manufactured by Sumimoto Chemical, a Japanese subsidiary of Monsanto.” [And yes, the original document has two #3 entries.]

    I could not confirm the information that Sumitomo is a “subsidiary” of Monsanto, although it seems to have several partnerships with it. I’m not sure how the alleged association with Monsanto is supposed to support the document’s claims that the larvicide and not Zika is responsible for the increase in cases of microcephaly.”

    The originating nonsense was from ‘“Red Universitária de Ambiente Y Salud”, which is a loose affiliation of individuals dedicated to fighting the use of pesticides, agrotoxics and the like. Perhaps the biggest clue that the information in the document is not trustworthy is that the name of larvicide called into question is repeatedly spelled wrong throughout.’

    George got taken in on this one, understandable, as his qualification in life is that of being an actor, not any allied medical field, public health or even biology.

  130. #130 doug
    February 17, 2016

    @Wzrd1
    The document from the doctors misspells Sumitomo as Sumimoto. It is clear that Sumitomo is what was intended, since one of the references is about Sumitomo providing herbicides to Monsanto. Monsanto has released a statement clarifying that Sumitomo is not a subsidiary – see Lawrence’s comment at #16.

  131. #131 justthestats
    February 17, 2016

    @Beth:

    chicunganya(is there an abbreviation for this one? 😉)

    CHIKV

    @Russ #121:
    Those dots you’re seeing don’t actually have lines connecting them.

    @Deeterboy:

    The problem with chemicals is that . . . they will damage all organic matter.

    . . . and to make things worse, all organic matter is made entirely of chemicals, so all organic matter is self-damaging! Be careful to never touch anything, ever!

    @B:

    Thalidomide is also safe and well tolerated until you give it to pregnant women in which cases babies are born with no arms and legs.

    Thalidomide causes birth defects for rats, so if they had tested it on pregnant rats before selling it, the tragedy might not have occurred.

    It’s all good and fine but rodents are very poor models for human microcephaly. Mice with mutations causing microcephaly in humans have quite normal brains so using rodents to screen for microcephaly defects is a bad idea.

    A quick googling for “microcephaly mouse model” and “are rats and mice the same thing” would have saved you considerable embarrassment.

    At any rate, the idea that a substance might not cause problems in one species but cause it in another is the reason why in the US the EPA requires reproductive toxicology studies with two different mammalian species before it will approve a pesticide. Indeed, in the paper I’ve referred to in a previous comment, they also tested rabbits and none of the rabbits got microcephaly.

    So for your hypothesis to be consistent with the data, you’d have to at minimum be hypothesizing that the pesticide causes birth defects at much, much lower levels than it does in both rats and rabbits, and that it causes a birth defect it doesn’t cause in either of those species but it doesn’t cause any of the birth defects seen in those species.

  132. #132 Dedbeet
    February 17, 2016

    This was the worst article I’ve ever read. The entire basis of the article is way off. Takei did not fall for it, he merely shared a supposed study but made sure to include a clarification, “IF this checks out……”

  133. #133 Gilbert
    February 17, 2016

    c) “humans do not make or use sesquiterpenoid hormones (a.k.a. insect juvenile hormones), which is what pyriproxifen targets”

    Irrelevant. The fact that we don’t have something that this chemical targets in insects does not mean it doesn’t have off target effects in humans. Or it gets metabolized to something with such effects.

    Good point, B #108; I’d bet that fish aren’t exactly swimming in their own persquiter bigger peter protagonist in question, and yet,

    Pyriproxyfen is practically non-toxic to birds or mammals. It is highly toxic to fish and freshwater invertebrates, and very highly toxic to marine invertebrates. Freshwater fish reproduction is affected at low ppb concentrations. Freshwater invertebrate reproduction is affected at low part per trillion concentrations

    http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/insect-mite/mevinphos-propargite/pyriproxyfen/esteem_mcl_0301.html

  134. #134 B
    February 17, 2016

    @justthestats
    “A quick googling for “microcephaly mouse model” and “are rats and mice the same thing” would have saved you considerable embarrassment.”
    Except you have to read the actual papers instead of looking at the titles. Most of the microcephaly genes in mice cause no or very little defect, not at all comparable with human microcephaly. That does not mean you can’t observe some phenotypes (like mitotic spindle orientation defects) hence they’re still used as models.

    “At any rate, the idea that a substance might not cause problems in one species but cause it in another is the reason why in the US the EPA requires reproductive toxicology studies with two different mammalian species before it will approve a pesticide. Indeed, in the paper I’ve referred to in a previous comment, they also tested rabbits and none of the rabbits got microcephaly.”
    Same thing: ape and particularly human brains are a bit different given the size and rodent or other “lower” species models are questionable for studying human microcephaly.

    “So for your hypothesis to be consistent with the data, you’d have to at minimum be hypothesizing that the pesticide causes birth defects at much, much lower levels than it does in both rats and rabbits, and that it causes a birth defect it doesn’t cause in either of those species but it doesn’t cause any of the birth defects seen in those species.”
    Actually for the pesticide hypothesis to be true it would require it to interfere with ape/human specific brain development. Which is not impossible.

    Again, I don’t really care about the pesticide hypothesis – I personally think Zika is more plausible given epidemiology but I have issue with articles which declare that it’s complete bullshit and cite reasons which do not disprove it at all.

  135. #135 Wzrd1
    February 17, 2016

    @ Denice Walter

    [quoting Mike Adams] DOCTORS and NURSES cause illness and death therefore, avoid them

    I’d love to meet Mike Adams in person and ask him this:
    OK, my blood pressure is currently 200/120, my pulse is 128 and I’m extremely irritable and even easily enraged.
    Choices, see a doctor or rip your liver out through your nose and beat you over the head with it.*
    All, while increasing my spoken volume… 😉

    *If one must speak a threat, make it as far outside of the laws of physics and possibility as possible.
    Besides, I do have hyperthyroidism. I’m far more likely to react to something stupid he said and hit him with a Buick. :/

  136. #136 Orac
    February 17, 2016

    Actually for the pesticide hypothesis to be true it would require it to interfere with ape/human specific brain development. Which is not impossible.

    Just incredibly improbable given what we know about this particular pesticide. Take an incredibly improbable hypothesis and add Monsanto conspiracy mongering to it while also taking into account the fact that this group of doctors has a long history of cooking up nonsensical claims that pesticides cause every ill under the sun, and you have bullshit.

    Which is what the pyriproxyfen-microcephaly claim is.

    Oh, and I don’t believe for a minute that you don’t care about the pesticide hypothesis, given how vigorously you’ve been arguing that it isn’t bullshit.

  137. #137 Leptopelis
    A bit behind the pack
    February 17, 2016

    @justthestats #45

    You’ve got some seriously misplaced snark there. Why don’t you use this thing called Google and find out what sesquiterpenes are? Hint: they don’t have sequences.

    Have fun!

  138. […] uma ligação entre o piriproxifeno e a microcefalia é evidente, outros estão chamando-a de “teoria da conspiração”. A Organização Mundial da Saúde (OMS) está insistindo que o pesticida é seguro para […]

  139. #139 Beth
    February 17, 2016

    MarkN #125.

    It seems to me that Zika is doing a fine job on its own at crossing the placenta as other TORCH infections.

    Chuckle—ZIKV has proven quite the warrior, eh? Extra points for using TORCH. Haven’t heard this term in years(I used to work in pedi icu/nicu/ pedi er) But I left a few moons ago. Frankly, I’m riveted by this whole Zika issue. I have dated Pedi/Nicu/Er experience–putting puzzle pieces together—and in this case so many are yet to be found—was among the most gratifying part of my job. Then there’s the heavy layer of conspiracy theories. Wow.

  140. #140 Beth
    February 17, 2016

    @justthestats #131. Thanks for the heads upr re: CHIKV!

  141. #141 herr doktor bimler
    February 17, 2016

    The people in FLORIDA were outraged but the media kept that quite so no one knew
    Public displays of stupidity in Florida? UNPOSSIBLE.

  142. […] continue to spread at the same viral rate as Zika, the issue is far from resolved, and even George Takei isn’t immune from bogus […]

  143. #143 Rich Bly
    Ocean Shores
    February 17, 2016

    I believe from the evidence so far that the ZIKV is in someway involved with the microcephaly cases in Northern Brazil. Studies are being dome and more still need to be done before causation and mechanism(s) will be found.

    The conspiracy theories that keep popping up are what I call Hula-Hoop Science (not really science). As long as you keep spinning them they won’t fall down.

  144. #144 Gilbert
    February 17, 2016

    But do go on blaming Monsanto. Just be sure you set fire to the proper building. It’s quite embarrassing, when people of your kind rip off perfectly ordinary crops or burn down a collection of rare orchid species.

    Interesting, Helianthus #126. Has Monsanto, and strategic partners of Monsanto, long had an interest in rare orchids??

    Bond: What exactly are you up to here, Drax? – And why the orchids?

    Drax: The curse of a civilisation. Neither war nor pestilence wiped out the race who built the city lying around us; It was their reverence for this lovely flower…

    Bond: Because long-term exposure to its pollen caused sterility?

    Drax: Correct, Mr Bond. As you have discovered, I have improved upon sterility; Those same seeds now yield death.

    Not, of course, to animals or plant life. One must preserve the balance of nature. — Moonraker

  145. #145 Liz Ditz
    Great State of California
    February 17, 2016

    Kenneth Camargo is medical doctor and professor of public health who lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who writes

    We are being inundated with information and misinformation about Zika and its correlation to microcephaly. There is a lot of fear, which is the perfect environment for people to spread false information.

    [He is referring to the original document spreading the fear] a document purportedly written by “Argentine doctors.” The organization that undersigns it is the “Red Universitária de Ambiente Y Salud”, which is a loose affiliation of individuals dedicated to fighting the use of pesticides, agrotoxics and the like. Perhaps the biggest clue that the information in the document is not trustworthy is that the name of larvicide called into question is repeatedly spelled wrong throughout.

    I will address the claims made in the executive summary of the document point by point.I’ve copied directly from the document, including the misspellings.

    http://thescientificparent.org/is-monsanto-behind-cases-of-microcephaly-in-brazil/

  146. #146 justthestats
    February 17, 2016

    @B:

    Except you have to read the actual papers instead of looking at the titles. Most of the microcephaly genes in mice cause no or very little defect, not at all comparable with human microcephaly. That does not mean you can’t observe some phenotypes (like mitotic spindle orientation defects) hence they’re still used as models.

    Oh, so that’s why you mentioned mouse mutations. Sorry, I completely misinterpreted what you were saying. I thought you were saying that mice don’t get microcephaly or that no one ever thinks that mice can be used as models for microcephaly, and that search would have refuted both claims.

    @Dedbeet:

    This was the worst article I’ve ever read.

    If you’re curious, here are a few articles that I’ve read that are worse.

    Also, most articles written on the TimeCube hypothesis and anything trying to justify the idea that torture isn’t torture as long as you don’t call it torture are worse, in my opinion.

    Leptopelis:

    Why don’t you use this thing called Google and find out what sesquiterpenes are?

    I just did. Said the same thing it did yesterday. 🙂

    Hint: they don’t have sequences.

    Nope, but the genes for the enzymes used to produce a. aegypti juvenile hormone most certainly do have sequences, and it’s not unreasonable to expect that if we had a similar hormone involved in our development, we’d have homologous genes. I even posted two links in #84 about that.

    But now that you mention it, it might make more sense to look for JH receptor genes.

  147. […] continue to spread at the same viral rate as Zika, the issue is far from resolved, and even George Takei isn’t immune from bogus […]

  148. #148 | The High Campus
    February 17, 2016

    […] continue to spread at the same viral rate as Zika, the issue is far from resolved, and even George Takei isn’t immune from bogus […]

  149. […] now, the Internet is abuzz with questions over a report that states it’s more likely that the outbreak of microcephaly […]

  150. #150 Gilbert
    February 18, 2016

    Perhaps the biggest clue that the information in the document is not trustworthy is that the name of larvicide called into question is repeatedly spelled wrong throughout.

    pfft. Liz Ditz #145, that’s only because it helps the truth get past automated spam and state-censure filters.

  151. #151 James
    Canada
    February 18, 2016

    Everyone needs to calm down about this. George is not just a celebrity he is a human and can make mistakes. I’m fairly certain the scientists fighting the Zika virus are not looking at his facebook page for references.

  152. […] uma ligação entre o piriproxifeno e a microcefalia é evidente, outros estão chamando-a de “teoria da conspiração”. A Organização Mundial da Saúde (OMS) está insistindo que o pesticida é seguro para […]

  153. #153 Liz Ditz
    Great State of California
    February 18, 2016

    Kavin Senapathy is as usual on the case.

    The leader of Médicos de Pueblos Fumigados, Dr. Ávila Vazquez has come under fire for making giant albeit unfounded scientific leaps. In 2014 for example, Dean of Agricultural Sciences at the National University of Cordoba, Juan Marcelo Conrero called for an investigation into Vazquez’s research, for overreaching conclusions in a study linking genetically engineered crops and agrochemicals to cancer, infertility and birth defect rates in the town of Monte Maiz, 300 kilometers from Cordoba.

    Médicos de Pueblos Fumigados is far from a scientifically sound organization. With its (translated) “Manifesto Against Pesticides” asserting that pesticide use is malicious, and a website littered with citations from the oft-ridiculed, retracted rat study from Gilles-Eric Seralini claiming a since thoroughly-debunked link between herbicides, GMOs and cancer, Vazquez’s group of physicians is more fringe than credible; more biased than objective.

    The Anti-GMO Doctors Behind False Monsanto Microcephaly Link

  154. #154 Narad
    February 18, 2016

    Kavin Senapathy is as usual on the case.

    I see that not even deleting the “#7271d88168fb” tracker part will defeat Forbes’s ad-push these days (it will change the “hello again … still using an ad blocker text).

    Selah. Forbes is better positioned than ever to be where blogs go to die.

  155. #155 Dana
    February 18, 2016

    This isn’t a conspiracy theory. No one sane actually thinks anyone poisoned these kids on purpose. They likely thought what you’re thinking, that the stuff was harmless. And it could BE harmless. But we won’t know til we dig deeper. And no one will dig deeper as long as we’ve got scientolatry fanatics screaming that NO WAY IN HELL COULD THIS BE. Oh really? Thalidomide. No one had any reason to believe that would cause harm either.

    In NO other country but Brazil has anyone seen a breakout of microcephaly associated with Zika in pregnant women. They have found a VERY few microcephaly cases in Brazil where the babies also had Zika, but all that means is the babies caught Zika. It doesn’t mean the Zika caused anything.

    So something else is going on and we need to find out what it is.

    Sit down. Let them work. Quit yelling at George.

  156. #156 Narad
    February 19, 2016

    And no one will dig deeper as long as we’ve got scientolatry fanatics screaming that NO WAY IN HELL COULD THIS BE. Oh really? Thalidomide. No one had any reason to believe that would cause harm either.

    You lose, despite points in the floor exercise for changing “scientism” to “scientolatry.”

  157. #157 Narad
    February 19, 2016

    Quit yelling at George.

    ^ Almost forgot.

  158. #158 Helianthus
    February 19, 2016

    In NO other country but Brazil has anyone seen a breakout of microcephaly associated with Zika in pregnant women.

    French Polynesia.

    @ Gilbert

    Interesting, Helianthus #126. Has Monsanto, and strategic partners of Monsanto, long had an interest in rare orchids??

    They don’t, AFAIK, t’was my point. Ecologist fanatics, like any witch hunters, are known to occasionally miss their target and destroy something valuable and not-GMO.

  159. #159 Krebiozen
    February 19, 2016

    Dana,

    Thalidomide. No one had any reason to believe that would cause harm either.

    Apart from Frances Oldham Kelsey, who had such misgivings about the drug’s safety that she blocked FDA approval in the US, thus preventing thousands of children from suffering thalidomide-induced malformations. The regulations for drug approval have been tightened up considerably since then.

  160. #161 MarkN
    February 19, 2016

    “scientolatry fanatics”

    I’m putting this on my Breaking Bad t-shirt

  161. […] a la misma velocidad viral que el Zika, el problema está lejos de resolverse, y ni siquiera George Takei es inmune a declaraciones […]

  162. #163 Robert L Bell
    February 21, 2016

    @Dana #155

    At the risk of belaboring the obvious, we don’t even know that there *IS* a breakout of microcephaly, period. There have been claims, which have been the subject of many an hyperventilating report, but we don’t actually know that the incidence of microcephaly has increased – mostly because the original baseline rate was suspiciously low relative to all other experience everywhere, but in part because a large fraction of suspected microcephaly cases turned out – upon closer examination – turned out to be normal variation in head size without the associated neurological issues.

    This is turning out to be exactly like every other case of statistical inference, ever: first you have to show that there is in fact an effect to explain, then you have to show that your proposed cause is reliably linked to your alleged effect. Review your Bradford Hill Criteria, for starters. What the media has done, as is typical, is to leap directly from “we have reason to believe that this might be the case” to “OH MY FUCKING GOD WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!”

    I, for one, am sick of this crap.

  163. #164 Sassy
    February 21, 2016

    #58 @Sassy
    Nothing, it has been almost a week.

    No reply.

    Reminds me of the time, I called another news site to take down The Greater Good documentary. They pretended to take it down. Yep, lied about taking it down.

  164. #165 Michael J. Dochniak
    Iowa
    February 21, 2016

    Alain (#105) asks,

    Instead of complaining, are you able to work on a suitable replacement for latex? did you train as an engineer with the knowledge necessary to design a replacement material?

    MJD says,

    I invented and wrote a patent that replaces latex in medical packaging.

    https://www.google.com/patents/US7695809

    When you see bandages that say “not manufactured with natural rubber latex” this is the inventive material often used.

    @Orac,

    I was at the Mayo clinic in Rochester MN last week and was horrified that natural-rubber-latex (i.e., rubber binders) were in patient recovery rooms.

    What should I do?

    .

  165. #166 MarkN
    February 21, 2016

    Yes to overdiagnosis, 65% as to the sample ~750 reanalyzed. However, the viral findings in post mortem neural tissue and genomic analysis offers an infectious disease process toward fetal development. There’s no way in hell that’s going to be dismissed as just a statistical adjustment concern.

  166. #167 MarkN
    February 21, 2016

    That was reply to 163, Robert.

  167. #168 Gilbert
    February 21, 2016

    but we don’t actually know that the incidence of microcephaly has increased – mostly because the original baseline rate was suspiciously low relative to all other experience everywhere

    Robert L Bell #163, there does appear to be a spike there. Microcephaly may have been under reported before, compared to the 25,000 microcephaly U.S. cases per year, or there is a novel adverse agent (viral, bacterial, toxicological) that has recently been introduced and the causative spike is real.

    I only say this because I’m a pothead, and not a closed-minded, Monsanto-supporting bigot declaring

    A loose alliance between the stoners and the Dope Cures Cancer fanatics has turned that place into a three ring circus, a total freak show

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2016/02/19/hillary-clinton-and-bernie-sanders-embracing-integrative-medicine-pseudoscience/#comment-429696

    Of course, if Monsanto or Dow did it, one might expect the federal personna management software to light up piping out *Move along, there is nothing to see here*.

  168. #169 Gilbert
    February 21, 2016

    Robert L Bell #163, have you oft been known to wear a Harley shirt??

    and then I witnessed both towers collapse, one first then the second. Mostly due to structural failure because the fire was just too intense.”

  169. […] Braziliaanse experts, medische factcheckrubrieken, medisch onderzoekers ter plaatse, bloggende hoogleraren oncologie, Nederlandse muggenexperts en niet te vergeten de WHO […]

  170. #171 Koda
    February 26, 2016

    Sensationalism at its best. Shame on YOU Science Blogs. Takei’s comment was neither pro or anti towards the article he posted. His comment, in the screengrab provided by you, is that “If this bears out, we have some soul searching to do.” What a pathetic hit job.

  171. #172 MI Dawn
    February 26, 2016

    @Gilbert: since I refuse to click on you.tube links in comments, can you tell me if your quote is from the video? Also, because I *did* watch the towers collapse, and I’d rather not bring back the nightmares.

  172. #173 MI Dawn
    February 26, 2016

    Oops…meant @Gilbert at #169

  173. #174 Gilbert
    hiding in a Nevada Hole with some real vice derp
    February 26, 2016

    It is a quote from the clip, MI Dawn #172.. Supposedly, the dude is not really the actor, Mark Adrian Humphrey.

    I wouldn’t want to bring back any nightmares by linking to home video of bodies and pianoes being ejected from the upper floors at ~130 mph. Nor would I reference that superheated waterheaters rupturing on each floor might have been enough, nor that the 400 deg steam off them set the depleated uranium mass dampers to burn for 3 months afterwards.

    I’m sorry you witnessed it; Did you trust what you saw??

    WTC7 won’t go away.

  174. #175 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    February 26, 2016

    I looked at the link, Dawn. As you might expect, it being from Gilbert, it is completely off topic, both to the main post and to all the spin-offs the minions generate.

    Unless you’ve drank the the bong water, of course.

  175. […] George Takei Falls for a Zika Virus Conspiracy Theory,” Respectful Insolence, February 15, 2016, http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2016/02/15/say-it-aint-so-george-george-takei-falls-for-a-zika-vir&#8230; (accessed February 27, […]

  176. […] acest moment, internetul a cam luat foc dupa ce un raport a titrat ca epidemia de microcefalie, o tulburare neurologica foarte rara care […]

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