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  • Brazil's Bolsonaro approved hazardous pesticides since he took office.

    Brazil's Bolsonaro approved hazardous pesticides since he took office. | Photo: Reuters

Published 12 June 2019

Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro's administration approved the use of hazardous pesticides, nearly all banned in western countries. 

Since Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro took power in January, the administration has approved the use of hundreds of hazardous pesticides, many of which are banned in Europe according to a study

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“We have never had such a big release of pesticides. This is certainly a political decision,” said Marina Lacorte, an agriculture and food campaign coordinator at Greenpeace Brasil. “The industry puts profits ahead of the population’s health.”

As of May 21, 169 new pesticides have been approved in Brazil, 78 of which contain ingredients classified as highly hazardous by the Pesticide Action Network. Twenty four contain ingredients banned in the European Union.

“Some of these are highly hazardous and this raises concern,” said Prof David Eastmond, a toxicologist at the University of California.

Concerns regarding the pesticides have reached European countries and are affecting Brazil's economy and trade. Last week, Swedish supermarket chain, Paradise, stopped selling Brazilian products grown with the banned pesticides that eventually threaten the Amazon rain forest.

Johannes Cullberg, founder of the grocery chain launched a #BoycottBrazilianFood campaign.

Various international companies have now registered their products in Brazil because they could not be sold in their own due to the use of the widly-banned chemicals.

Germany-based Helm registered nine products in Brazil that it can't sell in Germany because of the pesticide restrictions in the European country.

Brazilian Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias told Parliament that previous governments did not approve pesticides due to an “ideological process.”

Dias also defended the use of glyphosate, a weedkiller which has been classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” in 2015 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Bolsonaro came to power with wide support from the agribusiness sector that wants to take over swaths of the protected Amazon basin for profit.

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