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Brazil farmers, Syngenta blast restrictions on use of popular insecticide

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By Roberto Samora

SAO PAULO, Feb 28 (Reuters) -A decision by Brazilian environmental agency Ibama to restrict the use of the widely popular thiamethoxam insecticide has attracted criticism from farmers and makers of the product, which is seen as toxic for bees and other pollinators.

After a public consultation, Ibama decided thiamethoxam may no longer be sprayed by tractors or agricultural planes. Its use is still authorized for seed treatment and to prepare land for planting.

Limiting use of thiamethoxam will cut yields and leave farmers with only a few options to control pests, according to Lucas Beber, head of Mato Grosso state farmer group Aprosoja-MT.

Syngenta, which developed thiamethoxam and was the first to register it in Brazil, claims the product is safe for all types of applications. The company noted "it is taking appropriate administrative and judicial measures aimed at mitigating damage to Brazilian farmers."

Aprosoja's Beber said even if there were alternatives to thiamethoxam, insecticide prices will rise, harming big and small farmers.

"Responsible use (of thiamethoxam) does not pose a danger

for bees," Beber said.

In a statement issued after restrictions were announced last Friday, Brazil's Environment Ministry and Ibama stated that thiamethoxam's environmental reassessment process is based on scientific evidence and expert opinion.

According to the agencies, thiamethoxam has been restricted or banned in other countries due to its impact on bees and other pollinators.

Syngenta criticized the restrictions and the fact they were imposed without the involvement of Brazil's Agriculture Ministry.

The company said thiamethoxam is essential for crops such as corn, soybeans, cotton, sugar cane, coffee, rice and oranges, adding it is registered for use in more than 80 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, United States, Japan and Mexico.

Ibama and the Agriculture Ministry did not immediately comment on Syngenta's criticism of restrictions.

Reporting by Roberto Samora
Writing by Ana Mano; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama


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