Pesticides: 17 points to understand the dangers of the new

On October 8, President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) published decree 10.833/2021, changing a series of regulations on the purchase, use, sale, storage and control of pesticides in the country. After that, the Permanent Campaign Against Pesticides and for Life carried out a technical analysis of the decree. 17 points were identified that present serious dangers to the health and well-being of the population in general and to the environment.

In practice, the publication of decree 10.833/2021 imposes part of the so-called “Poison Package”, which is a Bill of Law (PL 6.299/2002) that is still pending in the Legislative. Announced by the federal government as a measure that “brings more security for applicators and incentives to scientific research”, Decree 10,833 facilitates the approval of pesticides in Brazil. According to the Permanent Campaign, the decree makes even more flexible poisons that cause cancer and genetic mutations.

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Decree 10.833/2021 amends decree number 4.074/2002, which regulates the Brazilian law on pesticides (Law 7802/1989). According to Naiara Bittencourt, a popular lawyer who is part of the Permanent Campaign Against Pesticides and for Life, the publication of the decree is an act of the president who overrides the participation of the National Congress or civil society.

“The act usurps the powers of the Executive Power because it innovates and affronts several provisions of the current Pesticides Law, Law 7802/1989, in addition to violating fundamental and social rights of the Federal Constitution, such as the right to life, health, and the environment ecologically balanced and to adequate food”, he emphasizes.

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Last Wednesday (13), a group of 35 deputies from the Workers’ Party (PT) presented a draft legislative decree with the aim of overturning the decree signed by Jair Bolsonaro. Entities are also studying the proposition of a Direct Action of Unconstitutionality (ADI).

Check out the 17 points raised by the technical analysis of the Campaign below:

1. Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA) is no longer required to publish pesticide records in the Federal Official Gazette

Since the 2016 coup, the number of pesticide registrations has been increasing exponentially. This control by the society can only be done, as currently the new records are published in the Official Gazette of the Union (DOU). The new wording leaves open the possibility of publication in the Pesticide Information System (SIA), which we do not know whether it really exists or whether it will be public when it is in operation. Source: Art. 2O – XV and Article 14O

2. Implements the “risk assessment”, which is more permissive than the hazard assessment currently in effect

The Ministry of Health now officially adopts risk assessment. This means that, even if a pesticide has a very serious characteristic (for example, being carcinogenic), it can still be approved if it is assessed that “under ideal conditions of use” the risk that it causes cancer is “acceptable”. In practice, this point may end the current prohibitive registration criteria provided for in Law 7802. There is no acceptable risk for serious and irreversible illnesses! (Provided in the Poison Package). Source: Art. 6O – I and III (Possibly illegal as it confronts Law 7802).

3. Removes the Ministry of Health’s obligation to assess the effectiveness of pesticides used in public health campaigns and at home

Pesticides are not just used in agriculture. They are also used in public health campaigns (mosquito mosquitoes, for example) and in products used at home (sprays to kill insects). These products will no longer require an evaluation of effectiveness by the Ministry of Health, that is, who says whether it works or not is only the Ministry of Agriculture. Source: Art 6O – II and IV.

4. Agricultural registered pesticide can easily be used for water environments and even chemical weeding

The new decree simplifies the authorization of an agricultural pesticide for uses other than that initially registered. The use of pesticides in water environments, native forests and urban and industrial environments can represent even greater exposure of the population. Therefore, all necessary studies must be done before authorizing this type of use. This section can even legalize urban chemical weeding. Source: Art. 8O.

5. After registering a pesticide, other products containing the same active ingredient will have fewer studies required

Efficiency and feasibility studies will no longer be necessary if a product formulated with an active ingredient already registered is registered. A formulated pesticide product has other ingredients besides the active ingredient, which can even be even more toxic. Therefore, two products formulated with the same active ingredient need to go through all the studies, as they can have very significant differences. Source: Art. 10O – § 14.

6. More pesticides will be able to jump the queue and have a reduced registration period, creating pressure on health and environmental agencies, without increasing the technical capacity of analysis

The new decree defines that MAPA can determine, for various reasons, that pesticides can skip the registration queue. The original decree already provided for prioritization of low toxicity pesticides, however, after the resolution of Anvisa, a large part of the substances is now considered of low toxicity. As a result, we run the risk of a flood of prioritizations, which will put even more pressure on health and environmental agencies, which will need to analyze more orders in less time (the power to define who has priority is in the hands of MAPA). Source: Art. 12O C and 14O § 3.

7. Despite establishing strict deadlines for the registration of a pesticide, the decree does not set a deadline for reassessment

The decree establishes deadlines ranging from 6 months to 3 years for completion of the evaluation of pesticide registration processes. These processes often involve complex analyzes of scientific studies, and are carried out by bodies that do not have the necessary amount of technically trained personnel.

However, for the reassessment of a pesticide, that is, when new studies appear that may ban a substance currently registered, the decree does not set a deadline. Paraquate, for example, had its reassessment started in 2008, and only in 2021 was it completely banned. It took 14 years of using a substance that was already known to be banned. Once again, the interest of pesticide companies outweighs the protection of the population’s health. Source: Article 15O

8. The possibility of canceling a pesticide registration is revoked if there are unauthorized changes by the assessment and registration bodies

In addition, MAPA concentrates more powers than health and environmental agencies in approving authorizations. Source: Art. 22O

9. Pesticides that cause cancer, genetic mutation, hormonal dysregulation, damage to the embryo or fetus, or damage to the reproductive system can now be registered

The prohibitive criteria provided for in Law 7802 have so far served to prevent the registration of very dangerous pesticides, or to trigger the reassessment process, if these effects were not known at the time of registration. The new decree allows establishing a “safe dose” for pesticides that cause this effect. However, for pesticides with serious effects such as cancer or causing hormonal disruption, any dose above zero is sufficient to cause harm.

The new decree may even allow pesticides already banned to return to the market. It is a legal setback, possibly in conflict with Law 7802. Source: Art. 31O § 3O

10. Companies will only need to provide sales data once a year, and only to the Federal Executive

Currently, the information must be delivered every 6 months, and also to the states. This practice allows for action to be taken in a reasonable time in case of a change in the pattern of use (for example, carrying out analysis of water in pesticides that have had an increase in use). Source: Art. 41O.

11. Impurity reports should no longer be sent by companies

According to the new decree, such reports must only be kept by companies. Impurities can often be more toxic than the active ingredient itself. Source: Art. 66O § twoO.

12. Opens the possibility of using expired pesticides

The new decree establishes that it is possible to revalidate, rework or reprocess pesticide products. In practice, this legalizes the sale of expired pesticides. The decree requires that the registration specifications must be maintained, but proof is not feasible in practice, as all tests would have to be redone. Furthermore, it is impossible to guarantee the stability of the expired substance, as well as the time for which the conditions will be maintained. Source: Article 69-A.

13. Products with more pesticides than allowed, or containing non-allowed pesticides, may be considered “acceptable”

The criterion of “acceptable dietary risk” is highly questionable, as it does not consider interactions with other contaminated foods and the specifics of each person. Source: Art. 86O § 8O.

14. Decree provides for information system, but does not ensure transparency

Despite providing for the development of a Pesticide Information System (SIA), and predicting that much information comes out of the DOU and is published in the SIA, the decree does not guarantee the population’s access to information in this system. Source: Article 94.

15. Pesticide applicator registration may be waived for “low risk” pesticides

The decree provides for the figure of the pesticide applicator, which is positive, however, it dispenses with its obligation for pesticides considered to be of low risk. However, the toxicological classification that determines more or less dangerous pesticides refers only to acute effects. In this sense, the waiver does not apply, because less toxic agents from an acute point of view may be associated with serious and potentially irreversible chronic effects, such as cancer, mutations, endocrine disruption and others. Source: 96-A Sole Paragraph.

16. Pesticides not registered in Brazil may be manufactured here for export

Several pesticides have already been banned in Brazil because they represent an enormous risk to health or the environment. As an example, we can mention organochlorines, such as DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), which cause damage to the central nervous system and are persistent in the environment. Despite not being explicitly provided for in the new decree, the Ministry of Agriculture itself stated in a note the forecast of production of pesticides not registered for export. This means risks throughout the entire industrial production and transport chain, in addition to pushing very dangerous products to other countries with weaker regulations. Source: “Decree establishes new rules for the registration and research of pesticides”.

17. Pesticides manufactured for export may have a different use from that registered in Brazil

Even if the pesticide is exported, it will be manufactured and transported in Brazil. Thus, their indications must be the same as those granted from the studies that granted registration in Brazil. Source: Article 95-A).

Source: BdF Rio Grande do Sul

Edition: Marcelo Ferreira

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