| RIO DE JANEIRO
RIO DE JANEIRO May 18 Brazilian prosecutors
said on Monday they would seek at least 50 million reais ($16.6
million) from multinational pesticide manufacturers for alleged
safety violations at a collection facility for used pesticide
The violations, in the west-central farming state of Mato
Grosso, exposed workers at the facility to "risk of
contamination" by toxic farm chemicals, prosecutors said. It is
operated by a local agronomists' association for collection by
Brazil is one of the world's biggest agricultural producers
and its biggest buyer of pesticides, according to Phillips
McDougall, a Scotland-based agricultural consultancy and
research firm. Manufacturers by law are required to provide
so-called "reverse logistics," or channels for safe disposal of
containers for the chemicals they sell.
Prosecutors are seeking the damages from Inpev, an industry
group established by manufacturers to meet the disposal rules,
and the makers of specific pesticides whose containers were
found at the facility during a February inspection.
Those manufacturers, prosecutors said, include the Brazilian
units of BASF, DuPont, Monsanto,
Nufarm, Syngenta, Adama, FMC
In a telephone interview, Joao Cesar Rando, president of
Inpev, said the companies are cooperating with prosecutors but
declined to discuss specific allegations.
During the inspection in Sapezal, a town deep in Brazil's
soy belt, prosecutors said workers were handling pesticide
containers without proper cleaning facilities and safety
equipment. The collection point, they said, gathers about 600
tons of pesticide containers annually.
The charges come as scientists, regulators, public health
officials and consumers increasingly complain that Brazil's
ascent as an agricultural powerhouse has led to unsafe and
excessive use of pesticides.
Reuters reported in April that at least four foreign
manufacturers sell pesticides in Brazil that they are not
allowed to sell in their home markets.
A week later, Brazil's National Cancer Institute issued a
report in which it criticized the reliance of Brazilian growers
on pesticides and echoed concerns by the World Health
Organization that some of the chemicals can cause cancer.
In addition to the 50 million reais sought for the February
violations, prosecutors said they would seek 1 million reais
($331,000) in individual damages for each of the point's seven
Under Brazilian law, which includes a distinct judicial
system for the hearing of labor cases, the charges in Mato
Grosso must be weighed in court.
($1 = 3.02 Brazilian reais)
(Reporting by Paulo Prada; Editing by Dan Grebler)