Soya fields in Brazil.

Banned Pesticides Used for Imported Soya Products

Updated 5:00 PM

Swedish Radio News reveals that high levels of pesticides banned in many countries are used to produce soya-based animal fodder in Brazil sold to Sweden and other countries to feed chickens, pigs and cows here.

The pesticides are blamed for causing serious medical problems for thousands of farm workers in Brazil.

Although the pesticides have been banned in Sweden for 30 years and are outlawed in the entire European Union – and the importers here are aware of their presence, the report claims that the importers choose to ignore the dangers in order to keep the prices low.

The Swedish Radio news report maintains that Brazil has tripled the use of pesticides in soya bean production in the last 6 years alone - becoming a notorious world leader.

At the Sweden's chemical inspection authorities, Peter Bergkvist maintains that this is one of Sweden's and the worlds' biggest problems – and that it is one of the major causes of deaths for the farm workers.

He adds that no one doubts that these are very dangerous substances and that he is amazed that these chemicals are still on the market.

It's estimated that soya imports are used as fodder for some 80 million chickens, pigs and cattle slaughtered in Sweden every year. And that without the pesticides, the costs for producing soya beans in Brazil would rise and be unacceptable to many importers in China, Sweden and the rest of Europe.

Claes Johansson is the head of sustainability work at the Swedish agricultural authorities, and states that he can't estimate what the costs of the imported fodder would be without the use of pesticides but that it would increase substantially. This in turn would boost the prices of poultry, beef and pork in the Swedish stores:

But, says Claes Johansson, if the importers would pay the price, they could demand pesticide-free soya protein.

The Swedish Radio News reporters also talked to Brazil's top expert in the area, Professor Wanderly Pignati at the University of Cuiaba.

He wants the importers in Sweden and elsewhere to make tougher demands on the Brazilian producers - because so many farm workers in his country suffer from damages that are so severe that they can be fatal.

He dismisses official figures as hardly reliable and instead estimates that 300,000 Brazilian farm workers are poisoned by the pesticides each year, adding that in areas where soya beans are harvested, there are clear signs of rapidly increasing cases of chronic diseases, cancer and birth deformities.

The Brazilian professor concludes that Swedish and other importers should state clearly that they will not buy soya fodder produced with these deadly pesticides.

Sweden and the EU has banned the pesticide, but cannot ban the soya fodder produced using the pesticide, unless it can be proved that it is toxic also for the consumers here.

What can be done is to encourage Swedish importers to only buy ethical products. When it comes to animal fodder, an independent agency already certifies products that are made without the dangerous pesticides.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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