Report documents acute intoxication due to the use of agrochemicals in 7 rural locations in Brazil

Bill wants to change legislation on agrochemicals in Brazil
16 de August de 2018

Human Rights Watch interviewed 73 people directly affected by the use of the products, including rural communities, indigenous communities, schools and quilombolas. Organization is against change in legislation.

The International Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch released a report Friday (20) documenting acute intoxication due to the use of pesticides in seven rural locations in Brazil, including quilombola communities, indigenous communities and schools. The article presents interviews with residents of Bahia, Pará, Paraná, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais and Goiás.

The report also reinforces the position of Human Rights Watch, which along with other entities, is against the bill to change legislation on agrochemicals in Brazil. In addition to documenting the accounts of those affected, the organization makes recommendations to various public administration bodies (see below).

In the study, 73 people were interviewed. Among the symptoms reported are: vomiting, diarrhea, numbness, eye irritation, headache and dizziness. Carina, with the identity preserved in the report, is a student in the municipality of Primavera do Leste, in Mato Grosso. She was one of those who reported health problems.

“I started to feel sick, nauseous, I tried to drink water to get better, but it did not help.” I started to vomit several times until I vomited everything in my stomach, ” the text says.

According to the director of the organization in Brazil, Maria Laura Canineu, in addition to the records of intoxication, in most regions of the research cases of intimidation have been reported.

“Há um clima enorme intimidação nestas áreas. Por que as pessoas não falam mais disso? Por que elas têm medo de denunciar. Das sete localidade, em cinco os moradores falaram de ameaças, inclusive de morte”, contou.

Marelaine, who also did not have the surname divulged for security reasons, is a teacher in the interior of Bahia and said that the products reach the students within the classroom:

“The plane was playing on the side of the school and the wind brought it to school. You could not smell it, but you could feel the mist, the steam coming through the window. The children, aged 4 to 7 complained that their gums and eyes were on fire”, it says in the document.

Jovana, 20, with her young daughter. They live in the state of Minas Gerais and, like other residents, said that airplanes make frequent applications of pesticides on the homes of their community. (Photo: Marizilda Cruppé / Human Rights Watch)

The report “You no longer want to breathe poison” brings recommendations to federal government agencies such as the Ministries of Finance and Health. In addition to the complaint regarding acute intoxication of respondents, the text also exposes the fact that pesticides often are sprayed without respecting the limits of the community – there is a “safe zone” that must be at least 500 meters to villages, towns, villages, neighborhoods and water sources for water supply.

“There is no ban in Brazil similar to aerial for ground spraying. That is: it is legal for a farmer or farmer to spray pesticide on the side of the classroom, for example”, completed Maria Laura.


The report also makes a number of recommendations for different bodies. See the highlights below:

Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply

Create safety zones around sensitive locations (including housing areas and schools) for all forms of land spraying. Stop aerial spraying of pesticides until a study is made of the human health, environmental and economic costs of spraying. Develop a comprehensive national action plan to reduce the use of highly hazardous agrochemicals in Brazil.

To the Ministry of Health

Conduct a study on the major health effects and costs associated with acute and chronic exposure to pesticides among people living in rural areas, including pregnant women, children and other vulnerable persons.

To expand, in terms of the number and type of food and pesticides tested, the analysis of residues of pesticides in foods within the scope of the Program for the Analysis of Agrochemical Waste in Foods (Para);

To the Ministry of the Environment

As part of a national review of current agrochemical policies, conduct a study of the key environmental impacts of current agrochemical policies. In conjunction with the Ministries of Health and Agriculture, develop a comprehensive national action plan to reduce the use of highly hazardous agrochemicals in Brazil, which should contain binding and measurable reduction targets with deadlines and incentives to support alternatives and reductions in the use of highly hazardous agrochemicals.

To the Ministry of Education

In conjunction with the Ministry of Health, conduct a national assessment of schools particularly at risk of exposure to pesticide spraying. Include teaching on pesticide damage and protection strategies in the school curriculum as part of environmental education.

To the National Congress

Reject bills that will weaken Brazil’s regulatory framework on pesticides, including bill 6.299 / 2002.

Designate adequate financial support for the Federal Public Ministry, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Human Rights to implement the respective recommendations of this report.

To the Federal and State Public Ministries

Investigate and prosecute, without delay, suspected cases of spraying within safety zones or of health or environmental damage resulting from spraying of pesticides;

To the Ministry of Human Rights

Protect people at risk of reporting pesticide related issues under the current program of human rights defenders and other programs;

To the Secretaries of State of Agriculture

In the absence of action by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, strictly establish and implement safety zones for ground spraying;

To the Secretaries of State for Health

Ensure that existing legislation on water testing for human consumption is implemented, in particular the requirement that water service providers conduct 2 tests per year of all 27 pesticides listed in the Ministry of Health regulation on the quality of water for human consumption.

To the Municipal Secretaries of Agriculture

In the absence of action by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply or the State Department of Agriculture, strictly establish and apply safety zones for ground spraying.

To the Municipal Health Secretariats

Develop and implement the municipal health surveillance program for populations exposed to agrochemicals.

Against PL 6,299

Bill 6.299 of 2002 was approved by a special committee of the Chamber of Deputies at the end of June, but still needs to be voted in plenary. If approved, the production of pesticides in Brazil may suffer changes in the approval criteria, in the analysis of risks and even in the name given to the products.

Veja os principais pontos do projeto:

See the main points of the project:

As it is currently: Agrotoxic.

For the project: Initially it was a phytosanitary product, then the rapporteur, deputy Luís Nishimori (PR-PR), changed the term to “pesticide”.

Registry control

As it is currently: Control is done by three agencies (Ministry of Health, Ibama and Ministry of Agriculture). The whole process is manual and processes in parallel, in the three organs.

For the project: Unify the process, which is under the command of the Ministry of Agriculture, but the three bodies will give opinions on the product. The process becomes digital and integrated.

Deadline for registration

As it is currently: Opinion on the producer should be released in 120 days. But it actually takes eight years.

For the project: Registration will be for two years. Initially, the report defined the period of 12 months for the product to enter the market in two or three years.

Temporary registration

As it is currently: There is currently no temporary registration of a pesticide

For the project: For new products, used in research and experiments, there will be a temporary registration of 30 days in Brazil. To this end, the product must be registered in at least three OECD member countries and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and should be used in the same crop.

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