UK trade could promote use of banned pesticides in Brazil, new report warns

The UK is exporting its pesticide footprint to other countries, environmentalists say. A new report, from the Pesticide Action Network UK, has found that increasing trade with Brazil could fund the use of harmful pesticides that are banned in Britain.

The Brazilian government is currently pushing through a bill that would slash laws to protect human and environmental health from pesticides. Even without this new package of laws, Brazilian farmers are allowed to use almost double the number of hazardous pesticides as those in the UK, including the lethal herbicide Paraquat, which has caused tens of thousands of deaths across the world from acute poisoning, and neonicotinoids, which are toxic to bees.

Campaigners have said a reliance on increasing trade with Brazil after Brexit could incentivise the use of these pesticides and degrade the environment in that country.

Vicki Hird, sustainable farming campaign coordinator at Sustain, said: “Most UK consumers have no idea that some of the meat they’re eating has been fed on soya grown using highly toxic chemicals. Right now, the UK government is talking a good game on reducing pesticide harms in the UK, but appears to have no problem with exporting our environmental and human health footprints to Brazil.”

The report also warns that the stronger trade bond could end up weakening pesticide regulations in the UK. It says that as a major agricultural exporter, Brazil would have much to gain from a drop in UK standards, which exclude food exports containing pesticides in amounts that exceed UK safety limits.

The UK government has proposed a bill that will sanction companies that have deforestation in their supply chains, including farmers in the Amazon who clear the rainforest. However, there is no such law for pesticides.

Josie Cohen, head of policy and campaigns at Pesticide Action Network UK, said: “The UK trade secretary is promoting trade with Brazil as providing ‘real opportunities to go further on green…

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