The ‘Poison Package’ and the UN Sustainability Guidelines

Since 1985, consumer protection has had an international instrument soft law, of great potential, which guides the formulation of actions, legislation and public policies in member states of the United Nations (UN): United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection. The document was first updated in 1999, when sustainable consumption was included in the list of goals and objectives to be pursued, with the aim of meeting the needs for goods and services of current and future generations, in a way that is sustainable from an economic, social and environmental point of view. In 2015, the guidelines were again revised to take into account the changes that have occurred in the world of consumption, particularly those arising from the rise of e-commerce, consumer debt and the environmental impact, which has had an important event. Brazil’s role in the review process. [1]. In the same year, the UN member states adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an ambitious and necessary plan of action, in which one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to change the current patterns of production and consumption (SDGs). 12).

Regarding this topic, it is worth noting that Brazil is known for having one of the most advanced consumer protection laws in the world, in terms of implementing United Nations guidelines. However, some measures recently adopted by the state call into question whether the consumer’s health, his right to information (clear, true and accessible), along with the fundamental right to a balanced environment, are actually being respected. [2] according to the instructions of the relevant international organization.

For example, for information, Brazil has already approved the registration of 326 pesticides, components and the like by June 2022, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (Map) [3]. For the sake of comparison, in 2015 only 139 registrations were approved, in 2021 that number was 562, which shows a constant increase in concessions.

In accordance with this worrying scenario, after 20 years in the House of Representatives, the basic text of the bill (PL) no. 6.299/2002 was finally approved, on February 9, 2022, under an urgent procedure. [4]. The original proposal came from the Federal Senate (No. 526/1999), an initiative of Senator Blair Maggi, and PL returned to the agenda after an urgent request presented on December 16, 2021 by Deputy Luiz Nishimori (PL/PR), also the rapporteur of the project . The text is now being processed under number 1,459/2022, in the Federal Senate.

Nicknamed the “Poison Package”, since it is being processed with 46 other proposals, the approved text was more ambitious than the initial proposal, insofar as it intends to repeal, among other provisions, the main rule of the country on the matter, Law 7,802 , of July 11, 1989. , with the aim of becoming a new regulatory framework. That’s according to the PL menu “enables research, experimentation, production, packaging and labeling, transportation, storage, marketing, use, import, export, final destination of waste and packaging, registration, classification, control, inspection and inspection of pesticides, environmental control products and As (.. .)” [5]. It is structured in 16 chapters, arranged as follows: Chapter I. – Previous provisions (Articles 1 to 3); Chapter II – Registration authorities (Article 4); Chapter III – Jurisdictions (Articles 5 to 11); Chapter IV – Registration procedures (Articles 12 to 25); Chapter V. – Changes, reanalysis and risk analysis of pesticides and environmental control products (Articles 26 to 33); Chapter VI – Suppression of offenses against the economic order (Articles 34 and 35); Chapter VII – Quality Control (Articles 36 to 38); Chapter VIII – Marketing, packaging, labels and inserts on packaging (Articles 39 to 45); Chapter IX. – Storage and transportation (Articles 46 and 47); Chapter X. – Inspection supervision and inspection supervision (Article 48); Chapter XI – Civil and administrative responsibility (Articles 49 to 55); Chapter XII – Crimes and punishments (Articles 56 and 57); Chapter XIII. – Unified electronic system of notification, petitions and evaluation (Article 58); Chapter XIV – Determination of assessment and registration fees (Article 59); Chapter XV – Distribution of amounts collected through assessment and registration fees (Articles 60 to 62); Chapter XVI – Final and transitional provisions (Articles 63 to 67).

Among the concerns about the bill are risks to the environment, the health of those who handle pesticides, as well as access to information and the health of consumers who, as the ultimate recipients, consume food produced with pesticides.

Among the major changes, without intending to exhaust the thinking, is the substitution of the terms “pesticide” for “pesticide” and “environmental control product”. In this sense, the first refers to products used in plantations, pastures or planted forests, while the second refers to products intended for indigenous forests. In Law no. 7,802/89, on the other hand, the division did not exist and all products were considered pesticides.

Moreover, if before the approval for use was from the bodies of federal agencies responsible for the sectors of agriculture, health and environment (Art. while products for environmental control are from the federal agency responsible for the environment sector. The change caused concern [6] given the reduction of decision-making powers and participation of the Ministry of Health and regulatory bodies such as the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) and the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama).

Another proposal of the “Poison Package” refers to the action of competent authorities in case of warnings or advice against the use of pesticides by international organizations of which the country is a member. Law no. 7,802/89 establishes the duty to undertake the above-mentioned measures, under criminal penalty. The text of PL is confused and a bit permissive, as can be seen from the reading of Art. 28, according to which “the federal registration agency may initiate a product reanalysis procedure”while in paragraph 14 of Article 3, the competent authority must “take steps to re-analyze the risk with regard to economic and phytosanitary aspects and the possibility of using substitute products”, both without predicting any inertia penalty. An important detail regarding the re-analysis procedure, the PL provides that, although not completed, applications for registration that use the same active ingredient in pesticides (§2 Article 29) or in environmental control products (§2 Article 30) may be approved, measure which can be undertaken regardless of the impact on the environment and the health of consumers.

Furthermore, the reasons for banning the import and production of certain pesticides would now have an open clause derived from the phrase “unacceptable risks”, insofar as the PL does not specify what those risks would be or what would be considered acceptable. Currently, the law clearly defines that all pesticides with teratogenic, carcinogenic or mutagenic properties that cause hormonal disorders or harm the reproductive system will be prohibited.

Regarding the deadlines for completing the analysis of the registration application, it is worth noting that previously there was no fixed deadline for the declaration of federal agencies, which has changed since Law no. 13,874/19 and Regulation no. a deadline of 60 days for the completion of the administrative procedure and the decision to approve enrollment or not [7]. The PL, in turn, provides that the conclusion of the analysis of the application for registration must respect a series of maximum periods (§1 of Article 3), the longest of which is 24 months, under criminal penalty (§4 of Article 12). Finally, in the absence of a final declaration by the holder of the registration and considering the fact that the applicant has complied with the requirements of the law, a temporary approval or a temporary special registration will be issued pending a final decision, another measure of the project’s dubious content. , which allows the use of pesticides without the final approval of the competent authority, revealing a lack of commitment to the current and future damages that could possibly be caused to the environment and the health of consumers.

Therefore, it can be seen that Brazil’s performance in recent years, in terms of promoting sustainable production and consumption, is against the guidelines of the United Nations and far from alternative agriculture, which values ​​the reduction of the use of pesticides, a measure that is even a condition for Brazilian products to enter foreign markets, as is the case with requests from European countries. On the contrary, it seems that we are taking more and more concrete measures towards the greater liberalization of the use of chemical products that endanger our health, the health of the Brazilian people as consumers and that contribute to the increase of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants that ultimately harm the environment and increase global warming. These and other considerations should be present at least in the decision-making process within the National Congress, in order to prevent the adoption of the bill that is processed under the pseudonym “Pacote do Veneno”, as a collective health measure in favor of environmental protection.

Luciane Klein Vieira holds a doctorate in law (field: international) from the Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA), is a professor in the postgraduate law program at the University of Vale do Rio dos Sinos (Unisinos) and director of Mercosul do Brasilcon.

Victória Maria Frainer is a Master’s student with a Capes/Proex scholarship in Public Law at the Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos (Unisinos) and a lawyer.

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