Brazil judge suspends use of glyphosate

Top Crop Manager/Reuters
Thursday, 09 August 2018 | Brazil
By Top Crop Manager/Reuters
A Brazilian judge has suspended the use of products containing the agrochemical glyphosate, a widely employed herbicide for soy and other crops in the country, according to legal filings.

A federal judge in Brasilia, Brazil's captial, ruled that new products containing the chemical could not be registered in the country and existing registrations would be suspended within the next 30 days, until the government reevaluates their toxicology.

The decision, which could be subject to multiple appeals, also applies to the insecticide abamectin and the fungicide thiram. As of August 8, 2018, pesticide industry group Sindiveg, Brazilian health agency Anvisa, and the Agriculture Ministry stated that they would be filing seperate appeals against the decision, according to a Reuters' update

The ruling affects companies such as Monsanto Co, which markets a glyphosate-resistant, genetically-modified type of soybean that is planted on a large scale in Brazil. Monsanto is now a unit of Bayer AG, following a $62.5 billion takeover of the U.S. seed major which closed in June.

Genetically modified soy production in Brazil began in 1998 with seeds brought over from Argentina, and has been a steady source of controversy for Monsanto. In 2012, Monsanto faced a $7.5 billion payout to Brazilian farmers over a dispute over the company's required royalties payment from farmers.

Certain glyphosate-resistant corn and cotton strains have also been authorized in Brazil.

“I think the judge is wrong and that the decision will be revoked somehow,” said director Luiz Lourenço of agribusiness industry association Abag. “It is impossible to do agriculture without these products.”

Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of soybeans, driven largely by growing demand from China. About 96.5 per cent of planted soy area in Brazil is genetically engineered beans. 

Last month, a federal judge in the United States ruled that hundreds of lawsuits against Monsanto by cancer survivors or families of those who died can proceed to trial, finding there was sufficient evidence for a jury to hear the cases that blame the company’s glyphosate-containing weed-killer for the disease.

In a statement given to Reuters, Monsanto said that glyphosate has been used for four decades in Brazil and that reviews worldwide have concluded the herbicide can be used safely. It also respects the procedures used by Anvisa, Brazil's national health authority, to ensure the chemical's safe use, the statement added.

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