Transnational pesticide manufacturers are increasingly present in Brazilian political decisions and are working to strengthen an agricultural model that encourages monoculture and violates basic human rights. The conclusion is in the report Toxic Trade – The European Union’s pesticide lobby offensive in Brazilprepared by researchers Larissa Bombardi and Audrey Changoe.
In the study, the researchers explain the connection between the European industry of agricultural poisons and the Brazilian government. The sector acts directly influencing the ruralist caucus and the government.
For this, according to the report, the industry provides parliamentarians with incentives and support for bills, promotes meetings with the executive and supports campaigns and platforms “that aim to do a green wash (greenwash) in the image of agribusiness in Brazil.”
:: Poisoning by pesticides kills a Brazilian every two days, says report ::
“It is very serious because it has to do with the destiny of a country, a nation. It doesn’t start and doesn’t end in Brazil, it has to do with Brazil’s insertion in the world economy. Obviously, these companies do not act alone. This is also very much orchestrated with local governments, not only in Brazil but in other countries. But in Brazil it is very clear”, says Larissa Bombardi in an interview with Brazil de facto.
She explains that the dynamics of world agriculture allows large global companies to have a high power of influence in food production, even if they are not directly related to the daily life of the countryside.
“Today, talking about agricultural production is not the same thing as talking about food production. We have companies based in the European Union that manufacture both the seeds and the inputs that will be used in agriculture. This globalized food market somehow allows industries that were previously almost exclusively in the chemical sector to also appropriate agriculture”, warns the researcher.
Also according to the report, “European pesticide companies not only benefit from the weakening of environmental and pesticide regulations in Brazil, but also from generous tax exemptions on pesticides”.
:: Bolsonaro government “opened the door” to dangerous pesticides in 2021 ::
The document points out that the strategy has had positive effects for producers of agricultural poisons – and, consequently, negative effects for the population. In the last twenty years, the use of pesticides in Brazil has increased sixfold. In the current government, the approval of these harmful substances is a record in all history.
“The Brazilian state, the federal government and our legislature have operated, in some way, so that these industries have control and benefits depending on the agricultural model that the country adopts and uses”, emphasizes Bombardi.
EU Mercosur Agreement
Advantages for the European pesticide industry can be further enhanced in Brazil through the trade agreement under discussion between the European Union (EU) and Mercosur countries (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, in addition to Venezuela, which is suspended from block since 2016).
The study presented by Bombardi and Changoe points out that the negotiation foresees a considerable increase in crop exports and imports of agrochemicals.
“The likely expansion of export agriculture could exacerbate existing problems, with the conversion of forests and other important ecosystems into areas for agriculture, and add to the toxic burden of pesticide-intensive agriculture for nature and communities. ”, says the text.
If ratified, the agreement should expand the sale of products such as soy and sugarcane, which are heavily dependent on the use of pesticides. In Brazil, a major exporter of both crops, the consequences tend to be worse.
:: Article | The use of pesticides is a political choice ::
The influence of the European industry of agricultural poisons in the expansion of the use of pesticides in Brazil contradicts policies of reduction and even total banning of these chemicals in the countries of the continent. “It is fundamentally at odds with these and other EU green targets” highlights the report on the topic.
In the document, the researchers emphasize that the member countries of the European Union should reject the agreement and act in support of a global transition from the monoculture model to more sustainable practices.
Bombardi says that in Brazil the debate needs to be expanded and involve society as a whole, especially in an election year that could reconfigure Brazilian politics.
“We see a direct connection with the lobby that takes place in the European Union and the lobby in Brazil to act in favor of these pesticide industries. It is something very scary and it is very important that we know that what is decided in Brazil and the destiny of our country are not always in our hands”.
Editing: Felipe Mendes