Did overzealous research reporting mislabel Syngenta?

Researchers sometimes make unstable and insupportable comments that do more harm than good. Photo: Sygneta

WASHINGTON, August 1, 2013 – “Breast cancer: the good, the bad and the ugly”, identified atrazine as a estrogenic or a chemical that mimics female estrogen and is a source causation of cancer. The article also identified AstraZeneca as the patent holder and manufacturer of herbicides that use atrazine under a company owned by AstraZeneca called Syngenta.

This information was sourced from award winning cancer researchers at the Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety Research Center in Canada, specifically from researchers Dr. Margaret Keith and Dr. James Brophy.

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This information was publically proffered by them in 2009.

However, Senior Manager of External Communications, Ann Bryan of Syngenta has stated AstraZeneca and Novartis has spun off their agriculture businesses-Zeneca Agriculture Products and Novartis Crop Protection and merged to become Syngenta and unrelated to AstraZeneca.

This merging happened 13 years ago.

This leaves AstraZeneca the 5th largest manufacutrer of prescription medicines in the world.

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Ms. Bryan goes on to say the atrazine is not an estrogenic and this statement is supported by the U.S. EPA, Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicine Authority and World Health Organization (WHO). S. Bryan also claims atrazine is not banned in Europe.

Investigating claims on both sides, it seems no researcher can say with any degree of certainty that atrazine causes cancer in humans. Lab animals do not fare as well but there is, as of now, no direct link to human cancer from atrzine.

Some considerably respected articles written of atrazine claim the product is banned in the European Union, so the question of authenticity where or if atrazine is banned lies with Syngenta who, it seems, would not say the product was not banned if it were banned.

Those within the cancer research communities do not always agree with chemical manufacturers but to make such claims as a product being positively a carcinogen as public knowledge is misleading and incorrect.

Perhaps overzealous research reporting without solid foundation is one method to gain grants and additional funding.


Paul Mountjoy is a member of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science.

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