Aug. 28, 2019
The Brazilian National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) announced on Monday, August 26, that it would reevaluate the toxicological profile of active ingredients that are the basis for pesticides being sold in Brazil.
The objective is to check for the presence of carcinogenic potential or endocrine and reproductive disorders, among other risks to human health.
The process will begin in December with the launch of a notice to manufacturers to submit studies, and could take up to two years for each ingredient, the agency said.
At the end of the revaluation, the item may be banned in the Brazilian market, circulate with restrictions or continue to be sold normally if there are no risks found.
What are these pesticides?
Currently, 381 active ingredients have been registered in Brazil. The first round of the review will focus on five fungicides, one insecticide and one herbicide (see list below).
According to Anvisa, the ban on some of these ingredients in the European Union or the United States is not necessarily motivated by health risks and could also include environmental reasons.
The first substance to be re-evaluated will be Carbendazim, a fungicide, for possible changes in the human DNA, fetal formation and human reproduction in general.
Until today, according to Anvisa, there were no clear criteria to define the list of products to be reevaluated, since the registration of pesticides in Brazil has no expiration date, and the agency only conducted such an analysis when triggered, usually by the Ministry of Public.
Often, these court reconsideration requests were not made based on harm to human health, Anvisa's focus, the agency said.
Currently, three products are under review by the agency. Among them is the herbicide Glyphosate, the world's best-selling pesticide and described by the World Health Organization as a "likely cause" of cancer.
In addition, the insecticide Abamectin and the fungicide Tiram are also being re-evaluated.
"For the first time, Anvisa is creating a model to re-evaluate pesticides, which until today were made with other rules, such as those of the Public Prosecutor, the Judiciary," explained Renato Porto, director of the agency.
"So now we have a ranking, a numbering, a number of points that will define which is the first pesticide to be reevaluated, the second, the third...," he added.
For him, the reevaluation will lead to a reduction in the toxicity level of pesticides in the country, since new products can only be registered to a degree less than or equal to those that already exist.
"This means that if we conduct a re-evaluation based on the health criteria, we will push the toxicological classification down over the years. That's how it was done in every country in the world," he said.
How are pesticides released?
Currently, for a pesticide to be released, it needs the approval of Anvisa, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama).
The pace of pesticides released in Brazil this year has been the highest in history. As of last month, 262 pesticides were registered, including a new active ingredient, formulated products - those that farmers can buy from agricultural input stores - and "equivalent" products, which are generic to active ingredients already authorized in the country.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the fast pace of release in the last three years is due to "bureaucratic measures" adopted by the bodies that evaluate the products, especially Anvisa, considered the main bottleneck.
In July, Anvisa changed the rules for pesticide labels, adopting an international standard.