Brazil's organic food, cosmetic and textile markets have advanced leaps and bounds in the last year, generating roughly US$872 million in 2017. The data, compiled by the Brazilian Council on Organic and Sustainable Production, or Organis, showed that the earnings were up from the previous year by USD$146 million. In 2010, revenues from Brazil's organic markets were just USD$121 million.
"I've always lived as a farmer. When I was seven, I used to help my father. The children of family farmers start working at a young age," said 65-year-old Maria Alves, who earns her living as an organic farmer. She said the inspiration to carry on the organic farming tradition comes from her grandmother, a woman who lived to be 101 years-old and sempre "made her living from farming. She was a woman who confronted many things, but she raised her children and was a happy woman."
The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food Supply detail that there are 17,075 registered producers of organic food in the country. Of the total, 70 percent are small family farmers. There were only 6,700 registered entities in 2013.
Maria Alves affirms that the importance of organic food production is in preserving the land, biodiversity and natural biological cycles, providing society with nutritious, healthy food, and maintaining one's health through preventive measures.
"Call it food security," Maria Alves said, "but we still aren't (food) sovereign because small farmers also need incentives, science, and support mechanisms in order to expand. It's wonderful that everybody eats well."
In June, Karen Friederich of the Brazilian Association of Collective Health said that agrochemicals contaminate approximately 70 percent of food consumed by Brazilians and they drink nearly 7.5 liters of agro-pesticides per year—the highest per capita consumption rate in the world.
“The cases of contamination are not well documented, but they affect a large portion of the population, generating reproductive changes, congenital disabilities and effects on the immune system,” Friederich stated.
She went on to point out that at least one-third of agrochemicals used in Brazil have been banned in the European Union and the United States due to their impacts on human health and the environment.
Since 2007, when Brazil’s Health Ministry began keeping records, the number of reported cases of human intoxication by pesticides has more than doubled, from 2,178 that year to 4,537 in 2013.
In the city of Urucui, over 80 percent of breast milk samples examined in a recent study were found to contain agro-toxins. According to the survey undertaken by Inacio Pereira Lima, a master's student in Women's Health at the Federal University of Piaui's (UFPI) Center of Health and Sciences, 83.4 percent of the breast milk samples were found to contain glyphosate or aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) or both substances.