By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The use of pesticides in Brazil grew by more than 162 percent from 2000 to 2012, according to the latest report by the Brazilian Association of Collective Health (ABRASCO), making the country the number one consumer of pesticides in the world. According to the entity, the Brazilian agriculture sector purchased more than 823,000 tons of pesticides in 2012.
“Since 2009 Brazil has taken over as the largest global consumer of agro-chemicals,” Paulo Petersen, director of the Brazilian Agro-Ecology Association (ABA), told Agencia Brasil news agency. “The consumption would equal 5.5 kilos per person per year,” he added.
The ABRASCO report, titled “An Alert of the Impacts of Pesticides on Health”, was released last week in Rio de Janeiro. The report includes scientific studies including data from the National Cancer Institute that shows a direct link between the use of pesticides and health problems.
According to APaulo Petersen the increase in the use of agro-chemicals is related to the expansion of mono-cultures of crops and genetically modified crops (GM).
The ABA director says that when genetically modified seeds were launched those in favor of using these seeds and crops argued that their use would lead to lower usage of pesticides because these plants would be more resistant to disease and pests.
Petersen argues that what has been seen in reality is the opposite. “Not only are we using more [pesticides] but we are using more powerful, stronger pesticides. We have been forced to import pesticides which were not even allowed in Brazil to combat pests which attacked GM soybean and cotton plants,” he is quoted as saying.
The executive adds that 22 of the fifty main active ingredients used in pesticides in Brazil today have been banned in most other countries. “We are facing a situation of total lack of control [of pesticide use]. The state does not monitor as it should and the legislation for the use of pesticides is not being obeyed,” he concludes.