August 24, 2018 / 12:01 PM / 3 months ago

Brazil court yet to rule on glyphosate, minister says tweet was wrong

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi tweeted on Friday that he had incorrectly stated a day earlier that a court had lifted an injunction on products containing the widely used herbicide glyphosate and that a ruling was still pending.

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi attends a news conference in Brasilia, Brazil April 17, 2018. REUTERS/Adriano Machado/File photo

An appeal is still pending on an Aug. 3 ruling that new products containing the chemical could not be registered in the country and existing registrations would be suspended as of September, until health authority Anvisa issues a decision on its re-evaluation of glyphosate’s safety.

Maggi tweeted on Thursday that the injunction had been lifted.

“My desire to resolve this issue is such that I have just passed on information that the glyphosate injunction had been struck down ... I’m still waiting for the decision. Sorry for what has happened!!” Maggi said in a follow-up tweet.

The ministry declined to comment further.

Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of soybeans, and glyphosate products, such as Roundup by Bayer AG’s Monsanto Co, are widely used on the country’s soy and other crops.

Monsanto, the biggest seller of glyphosate products in Brazil, declined to comment.

The appeal claimed maintaining a suspension on glyphosate would make the country the first in the world to ban it. A suspension could result in the loss of an estimated $25 billion in trade, court records showed.

Maggi said last week that banning the popular weedkiller would be “a disaster” for Brazilian agriculture as no comparable alternatives are readily available. Brazilian farmers begin planting soy next month.

Brazilian pesticides lobby group Sindiveg, which represents companies in the sector including Monsanto, said it would await the ruling on the appeal before deciding on any further action.

The World Health Organization in 2015 classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Yet its use is allowed in most developed countries, including the United States and much of the European Union.

A U.S. judge ruled earlier this month that Monsanto must pay $289 million in damages to a man who alleged the company’s glyphosate products caused his cancer. Monsanto is appealing the decision.

Monsanto and Bayer have said that hundreds of studies and a track record of more than 40 years of use in practice demonstrate that glyphosate is safe.

Reporting by Jake Spring and Ana Mano; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Richard Chang

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