The environmental organization Greenpeace has reported that, so far this year, the Government of Brazil has authorized the use of 262 pesticides, 31% of which are banned in the European Union due to their high toxicity and the risks they pose to people's health and the environment, such as acetate or chlorothalonil. According to data from this organization, 43% of the pesticides that have been authorized since President Jair Bolsonaro took office are highly or extremely toxic.
In Brazil, a product can only be used in the field if it has been authorized by the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa), the Ministry of Environment, and the Ministry of Agriculture. Due to a recent change in the classification criteria for new Anvisa pesticides, the only criterion to define the toxicity of a product is that it poses a risk of death.
The state agency has argued that the new classification meets international standards, but local organizations criticized the information gap, especially regarding rural workers, who are the people most exposed to the risks that these products entail.
Brazil, a world champion in the consumption of agrochemicals
A study by the National Cancer Institute concluded in 2017 that each Brazilian consumes on average per year five liters of poison. Between 2017 and 2014, there were 1,186 cases of death due to poisoning with agro toxins reported, according to a study by geographer Larissa Mies Bombardi, from the University of São Paulo.
In recent weeks, Senator Katia Abreu, who was Minister of Agriculture of the Government of Dilma Rousseff (2011-2016) and chaired the National Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock, warned that the excessive use of pesticides can have negative commercial consequences for Brazil related to the phytosanitary barriers that importing countries can put on the excess of pesticides and also due to environmental regulations that may call into question the vertiginous increase in deforestation in the Amazon.
Abreu, a highly respected voice in the world of agribusiness, expressed fears that European farmers would use these arguments as pressure on their governments so that they don't ratify (or substantially modify) the newly reached trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur, which was celebrated by the Brazilian primary sector as a historic victory.