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Monsanto Calls Glyphosate 'Safe' After AP Report on Severe Public Health Damage in Argentina

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Monsanto Co. is calling for more controls on agrochemicals, including its Roundup line of glyphosate-based weed-killers, in response to an Associated Press report about concerns that illegal pesticide applications are harming human health in Argentina.

"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 St. Louis, Missouri-based company said after the AP report was published Monday.

The company criticized the AP report as lacking in specifics about health impacts, though the story cited hospital birth records, court records, peer-reviewed studies, continuing epidemiological surveys, pesticide industry and government data, and a comprehensive audit of agrochemical use in 2008-11 prepared by Argentina's bipartisan Auditor General's Office.

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.

Asked for Monsanto's position on this, company spokesman Thomas Helscher told the AP in an email Tuesday that "the absence of reliable data makes it very difficult to establish trends in disease incidence and even more difficult to establish causal relationships. To our knowledge there are no established causal relationships."

Earlier, Monsanto criticized the AP report as "overbroad in indicting all 'pesticides' when we know that glyphosate is safe."

"The U.S. EPA and other agencies not only say there is no evidence of carcinogenicity but go further to give it the highest rating, "E," which means there is affirmative evidence that glyphosate does not cause cancer in humans."