Bill wants to change legislation on agrochemicals in Brazil

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Inca, Fiocruz, Federal Public Ministry (MPF), Ibama, Anvisa, among other institutions, published public notes against the Blairo Maggi project

The production of agrochemicals in Brazil may undergo changes in the approval criteria, in the analysis of risks and even in the name that will be given to the products. These changes are foreseen in a bill drafted by the current Minister of Agriculture, Blairo Maggi (PP). The proposal is under discussion in the House of Representatives, was approved in committee, and is defended by businessmen and strongly criticized by environmentalists and medical entities.

The bill wants to change the name of pesticides to “agricultural pesticides” and “phytosanitary products.” It will release temporary licenses, and also provides that the analysis of products only prohibits substances that present “unacceptable risk”.

But are there acceptable risks when it comes to public health and protection of the environment? The issue is raised by organizations and institutes heard by the G1. Because they believe the answer is “no,” opponents call the “PL of Poison” initiative.

Bill 6.299, of 2002, added another 28 proposals that were already processed in Congress. It is defended by the agribusiness sector in the Chamber as a modernization of the norms established until today. Proponents say the process for the evaluation and release of pesticides is very expensive and time-consuming.

Currently, it is necessary the endorsement of different organs for a new product to be approved, among them the National Agency of Sanitary Surveillance (Anvisa) and the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture.

On the other side of the bill are environmental NGOs, Anvisa, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), the Department of Surveillance in Environmental Health and Worker’s Health (Ministry of Health), the National Cancer Institute (Inca ) and Ibama, among other institutions. They present scientific studies and argue that the changes can pose risks to health and the environment.

History of PL 6.299

In Brazil, issues related to pesticides are consolidated by Law No. 7,802 of 1989, which deals with research, labeling, storage, import, export and registration – almost all processes related to the use, release and inspection of pesticides in the country.

The committee to discuss the changes was created in 2016 by the presidency of the House. At the time, the president-elect for the special commission was Congresswoman Tereza Cristina (DEM). She appointed deputy Luiz Nishimori (PR) as rapporteur, who gave a favorable opinion to the bill.

The Commission has set a timetable and has chosen experts to discuss 18 axes. Before giving his assent, Nishimori wrote more than a dozen considerations, such as production difficulties in tropical regions, “delayed evaluation” in relation to the international scenario, risk criteria and, as well as advocates, a system of “extremely bureaucratic” pesticide registration. According to the report, a new product takes from 6 to 8 years for approval.

Law aims to change name “pesticides” to “phytosanitary producers” (Photo: Nathalia Ceccon / Idaf-ES)

What is foreseen in the proposal

  1. See below for the bill:It goes on to use the terms “agricultural pesticides” and “phytosanitary products” instead of “pesticides”.
  2. Analyzes for new products and authorization of registrations are now coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture.
    The Ministry of Agriculture will also “define and prioritize the analysis of phytosanitary product registration claims for health and environmental agencies.”
  3. A temporary registration and authorization is created for products that are already registered in three other countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and adopt the FAO code. The deadline will be 1 year of analysis and then the registration will be released temporarily.
  4. The risk analysis is mandatory for the granting of registration and must be submitted by the company requesting the release of the product. “Acceptable risk” products are now allowed and only products with “unacceptable risk” may be barred.
  5. The States and the Federal District shall not restrict the distribution, marketing and use of products authorized by the Union.
  6. Facilitates bureaucracy for the release of similar and similar pesticides to others already registered.

Constitutionality questioned

Deputy Luiz Nishimori wrote in his report that he considered the constitutional changes. The Federal Public Ministry (MPF) disagrees and, in a technical note, said that at least six articles of the Federal Constitution will be violated if the bill is approved.

“In the opinion of the 4th Chamber, the text authored by the current minister of agriculture, Blairo Maggi, makes the control over products more detrimental to health and the environment,” said MPF’s Chamber of Environment and Cultural Heritage (4CCR) .

According to the MPF, the current legislation prohibits the approval of substances with teratogenic, carcinogenic or mutagenic characteristics, or that cause hormonal disturbances and damage to the reproductive system.

The bill, according to the agency, allows them to be registered since the risk analysis is established – only products with “unacceptable risk” could be barred.

“It is prohibited to register pesticides, their components and the like that reveal teratogenic, carcinogenic or mutagenic characteristics, according to the updated results of experiences of the scientific community”, says the text of the law of 1989.

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