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August 9, 2018

Brazilian Judge Temporarily bans the use of Glyphosate Herbicide

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

With only a month to go before farmers in Brazil start planting their 2018/19 crops, a substitute federal judge in Brazil on Friday, August 3rd issued a temporary order prohibiting the use of any product containing glyphosate herbicide. The order will become permanent within 30 days once it is published in the Official Registry.

This order has caught the agricultural sector in Brazil by complete surprise. Glyphosate, which is commonly sold under the trade name Roundup, is the most widely used herbicide in Brazil and around the world. The herbicide has been in use for 40 years and in 160 countries.

The judge's order was in response to a request from the Brazilian Public Ministry, which would be equivalent to a Consumer Protection Bureau, to reevaluate the toxicology studies being conducted by the National Agency for Plant and Animal Sanitation (Anvisa) which is responsible for evaluation of the safety of products.

This announcement caused immediate and widespread alarm in the agricultural community. Numerous agricultural groups petitioned the Ministry of Agriculture to ask for an emergency stay of the order. The Brazilian Attorney General has already has already started the process of suspending the decision. These groups want immediate action due to the 30-day window for appeals before the decision becomes official.

The Agriculture and Livestock Confederation of the State of Parana (FAEP), the Soybean and Corn Producers Association of Brazil (Aprosoja), the Brazilian Agribusiness Association (Abag), and other agricultural groups weighed in immediately indicating that the use of glyphosate is indispensable for Brazilian agriculture and that there are no adequate alternatives at the present time. They all indicated that banning the use of this herbicide could have catastrophic consequences for Brazilian agriculture.

If this order is not immediately reversed, retailers will not be allowed to sell glyphosate they have in inventory and farmers will not be allowed to apply the herbicide that they have already purchased and have on the farm.

One of the reasons why glyphosate is so important to Brazilian agriculture is because much of Brazil's soybeans are planted as no-till, which requires the application of a burn-down herbicide before the soybeans are planted. No-till production is environmental advantageous because if helps to control erosion and the loss of nutrients from the soil. It also makes soybean production more sustainable. What makes this decision so alarming to Brazilian farmers is that they would need to apply the herbicide over the next several weeks in preparation for soybean planting which will start on September 15th.

Over 90% of Brazilian soybeans are tolerant to glyphosate herbicide and glyphosate is by far the preferred herbicide for Brazilian farmers. Not only is glyphosate used for soybean production, it is also used in corn and cotton production as well.