'Brazil has approved hundreds of new pesticide products since its far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, took power in January, and more than 1,000 since 2016, a study has found. Many of those approved are banned in Europe.
Of 169 new pesticides sanctioned up to 21 May this year, 78 contain active ingredients classified as highly hazardous by the Pesticide Action Network and 24 contain active ingredients banned in the EU, according to the study published on Wednesday by Greenpeace UK’s news agency Unearthed. Another 28 pesticides not included in the report were approved in the last days of 2018.
“It really appears that they have accelerated their approvals process,” said Prof David Eastmond, a toxicologist at the University of California, Riverside. “Some of these are highly hazardous and this raises concern.”
Brazil began accelerating pesticide approvals in September 2016 after Michel Temer, a conservative politician with close agribusiness links, assumed the presidency. Bolsonaro also won the presidency with strong support from the agribusiness sector.
Since Temer took office, 1,270 pesticides have been approved – double the number in the previous four years. Of those, 193 contained active ingredients banned in the EU, Unearthed found using data from Brazil’s agriculture ministry.
“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.”
Concern has spread beyond Brazil. The Swedish natural and organics supermarket chain Paradiset stopped selling Brazilian products last week because of the increase in approvals of pesticides and the threat Bolsonaro represents to the Amazon rainforest. Its founder, Johannes Cullberg, has launched a #BoycottBrazilianFood campaign.
Several foreign companies have had pesticides approved in Brazil that are banned or restricted in their own countries, Unearthed found.'
Read more: Hundreds of new pesticides approved in Brazil under Bolsonaro
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