BRASILIA — Brazil’s lower house approved on Wednesday a bill seeking to loosen controls on pesticide approvals and use in one of the world’s largest agricultural producers, returning it to lawmakers in the Senate for their consideration.
The proposal has been dubbed the “Poison Bill” by critics who say it paves the way for more dangerous pesticides to be used in one of the world’s top exporters of beef, chicken, soy and coffee.
Supporters, including the lower house’s powerful agribusiness bloc, deny it would be dangerous, arguing it cuts red tape for approvals and provides more transparency.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is a big backer of the country’s agriculture sector, and has sought to peel back environmental protections during his time in office.
Appetite for the bill has grown in recent weeks as Brazilian soy and corn producers have struggled to secure supplies of pesticides.
The companies which deliver those products have said they are battling production bottlenecks in China and global logistics headaches.
In a joint statement on Tuesday, soybean grower group Aprosoja Brasil and corn lobby Abramilho said they had received complaints from growers across the South American nation about the unexpected cancellation of deliveries of the herbicide Atrazine, which is used to control weeds.
In January, a shortage of Diquat led soybean growers to request government permission to directly import the herbicide, which is mainly used as a desiccant to aid in harvesting. (Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello; Editing by Karishma Singh and Clarence Fernandez)