Monsanto Versus the Associated Press, Round Two

A new AP story focuses on the biotech company's response to a report on the impact its chemicals have had in Argentina.

(Illustrated by Lauren Wade)

Oct 23, 2013· 1 MIN READ
Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor.

Following its lengthy, richly reported story about the impacts Monsanto has had on the health of Argentines living in the South American country’s farm belt, the Associated Press was back yesterday with a quietly combative follow up addressing the biotech company's response to the article.

“If pesticides are being misused in Argentina, then it is in everyone’s best interests—the public, the government, farmers, industry, and Monsanto—that the misuse be stopped,” the company said in response to the story, which documented the poor oversight, misuses and routine exposure of farmworkers and residents to agrochemicals sold by Monsanto in Argentina.

But that’s as far as the corporation went in acknowledging its part in the astonishingly high rates of cancer and birth defects that have plagued parts of Argentina in the years following Monsanto’s introduction to the local ag market. Rather, it continually pointed to the fact that glyphosate, the pesticide marketed as Roudup, is “safe.”

The medical community in Argentina would beg to differ—and has astonishing numbers to support their case. One physician who runs a epidemiological study at the National University of Rosario Medical School “has found a 90 percent increase in cancer rates since 1997.” Monsanto products were first introduced in 1996.

The response story continues: “Argentine doctors interviewed by the AP said their caseloads—not laboratory experiments—show an apparent correlation between the arrival of intensive industrial agriculture and rising rates of cancer and birth defects in rural communities, and they’re calling for broader, longer-term studies to rule out agrochemical exposure as a cause of these and other illnesses.”

And yet Monsanto apparently took issue with the story for “lacking in specifics about health impacts.”