Ruralists* ban debate on pesticides in Chamber

Caucus refuses to listen to several entities in discussion on Draft Law

By Rafael Tatemoto |Edited by:  Diego Sartorato | Brasil de Fato | June 21, 2018

The ruralist group of the Chamber of Deputies has repeatedly opposed the participation of public health and environmental agencies in the Special Commission that debates the Draft Law (PL) 6.299 of 2002, which changes the rules for the release of new agrochemicals in Brazil, making the rules for granting authorization softer.

Opposition parliamentarians have required institutions such as the National Cancer Institute, Ibama (Brazilian enivronmental agency), Anvisa (Brazilian health regulatory agency) and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FioCruz - scientific institution for research and development in biological sciences) to be heard by the members of the Commission. Some of these institutions have already expressed themselves as against the PL, pointing out the relationship between pesticides and carcinogenic diseases. In addition, more than 200 civil society organizations have launched a manifesto against the amendments.

Current legislation prevents substances whose isolated use proves to cause cancer or mutations to be released. The so-called "Poison Pack" is intended to allow the use of all, instituting only the distinction between what is "safe" or "unsafe" use of such products. Marina Lacorte, a specialist in the Greenpeace Campaign for Agriculture and Food, says that the ruralists' actions ignore the scientific community's warnings and are guided by "their own interests".

"The approval of this PL will be a real disaster, both for the health of the population and for the environment. It will completely dismantle the current law for the benefit of the industry. We are already the champion in the use of these substances. Under the proposal, approval would be allowed to use products that are already proven to be carcinogenic. Today, with the law we have, can not go ahead and be approved," he criticizes.

Carla Bueno, an agronomist and member of the Permanent Campaign Against Agrochemicals and in Defense of Life, argues that one of the elements to understand the interests of the ruralist group is the context of the electoral rules in 2014, which still allowed possible “business gifts.”

"It's a very powerful caucus. The 'Poison Pack' vote is an indicator of the predominance of interests opposed to the majority of the population in Congress. The number of rural people in Congress has to be understood from the perspective of who financed the electoral campaigns of this sector. People are well aware that whoever pays the band chooses the song. Economic interests are linked to the poison industry," he says.

Ruralists are almost 40% of the National Congress, according to Public Agency data. In the Special Committee, the proportion is even higher: 37 out of 50. Despite intense efforts to approve the opinion of the PL in the collegiate, they have faced strong opposition from parliamentarians critical of the project, which has led to several delays in voting on the matter.

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