Brazil′s Bolsonaro restricts drugs policy council, legalizes agritoxins | News | DW | 23.07.2019
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Brazil's Bolsonaro restricts drugs policy council, legalizes agritoxins

It was a busy day for the president, who stripped the drug policy council of independent members and legalized dozens of agritoxins. Jair Bolsonaro wants tighter control of Brazil's deforestation data.

President Jair Bolsonaro wants tighter control of government data on deforestation. He spoke just days after accusing Brazil's space agency, the INPE, of falsifying data.

Data released by the INPE in July data shows deforestation accelerating — raising concerns as officials negotiate an EU trade deal. Bolsonaro said his Cabinet should review data before the INPE releases it.

The president came out swinging at regulators Monday. His Agriculture Ministry authorized 51 pesticides and herbicides, bringing the number of agritoxins permitted to 290 in the just over half a year of his government so far.

Read more: Could Brazil's new ambassador to the US be a Bolsonaro?

Seven of the pesticides authorized on Monday contain an ingredient that researchers believe is contributing to the global die-off of bees.

The Agriculture Ministry reports that deregulating agritoxins offers business "more-efficient alternatives of control and with less impact on the environment and human health."

'Wipe out' councils

Bolsonaro stripped a council that helps set drug policies of almost all of its nongovernmental members, indicating he hopes to stifle dissent. He said he wished to eliminate all councils, which mix appointees, experts and representatives of civil society created to help formulate policy.

Read more: Planting 1 trillion trees could stop climate change, argues study

"We want to wipe out the councils, extinguish the vast majority of them so that the government can function," Bolsonaro told reporters, criticizing members appointed by previous governments who might not share the views of his administration. "We cannot be held hostage by councils," Bolsonaro added.

The body, which operates under the Justice and Public Security Ministry, approves or updates national drug policies. The new decree also includes a clause forbidding members to speak openly about the council's discussions and projects without prior approval from government officials.

When his administration celebrated 100 days in power this spring, Bolsonaro signed a decree to shut down dozens of federal councils, committees and forums, saying that would allow significant savings, but did specify how much money. Brazil's Supreme Court quickly weighed in, limiting Bolsonaro's action to committees and councils not created by law but by decrees.

Read more: Olympic legends deny taking bribes for Rio de Janeiro bid

Bolsonaro has managed to downsize councils, trimming the influence of independent members. In May, he slashed a body that oversees environmental policy from 100 to 21.

mkg/jm (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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