The Brazilian embassy replies to boycott against Jair Bolsonaro

We Don’t Have Time
Jun 13 · 6 min read

Brazil is “not the biggest user of pesticides”, the embassy claims in an open letter, available in full together with the food chain owner's reply in this article.

Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil.

Following Mr. Bolsonaro’s decision to approve the use of 197 new pesticides, Johannes Cullberg, founder of the Swedish supermarket chain Paradiset, decided to boycott all Brazilian agricultural products.

Mr. Cullberg also started a climate warning campaign on We Don’t Have Time. It has quickly become one of the most shared campaigns in our social network. Thousands of We Don’t Have Time users now stand behind Mr. Cullberg’s initiative.

Earlier this week, We Don’t Have Time notified the Brazilian authorities about the campaign, and they have decided to respond through the Brazilian embassy in Stockholm:

Dear Mr. Cullberg, The Brazilian Embassy in Stockholm has taken note through reports in the press that your company announced a boycott to Brazilian products, which obviously surprised the Brazilian Government as well as many Brazilian exporters.

With all respect to your convictions and to your privilege to decide what best suits your business, we wish to convey some important facts and information that may interest you as a supplier of fresh farming products, and that may be taken into account for future decisions.

In sending you this letter, we do not know exactly if you import organic goods from Brazil or otherwise. In any case, the Embassy wishes to inform you that Brazil, despite being an agricultural powerhouse, is not the biggest user of pesticides. It is ranked 5th or 7th in the World, according to applicable parameters in pesticide studies worldwide, being such rankings based on either total volume, per surface (hectare) or per capita In what regards pesticides, notwithstanding being, as a country, the second greatest producer of food in the World (excluding the EU as a whole) Brazil has a compatible record if compared to the rest of agricultural countries and stands below the top users and consumer countries.

There are statistics that you may find on the Internet, such as the official records of FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) which can be accessed through the following link. Or you could also find Brazil’s rankings in many other studies available online , as for example.

It is worrisome that, though many other countries have higher use of pesticides, only Brazil has been singled out in the press and media. In that regard, as you know, news in general are in many cases based on opinions tainted with political or other agendas, and we believe that such sources of information to take decisions on are not an unbiased substitute for studies and technical data at regard Taking solely general opinions into account to support conclusions may give way to unfair decisions since they do not reflect all available and reliable data and real situations.

On that note, we wish you could take into account also, in what regards the number of pesticides that were authorized recently in Brazil, that this fact does not necessarily mean that all of the products will be used in full scale on the short or long run. It will be the market and the efficiency of the pesticide products in controlling harmful pests and insects that will determine if they will be used in large scale.

Therefore, authorization does not mean actual use, and again, we wish to stress that there are many other countries that use bigger volume than Brazil, even if there are fewer specific authorized pesticides Therefore, there is no direct correlation between authorizations and total volume, as statistics have proven in the above-mentioned studies In this context, another fact to keep in mind about the need of use of pesticides in Brazil is its tropical environment, where pests, insects, bacteria and fungi exist in a greater variety and with much greater rate and scale of proliferation than in European or other milder climates. In tropical countries, clearly, pesticides have to be used in proportion to the dimension of the challenges of local biological environment so as to counter the elements that jeopardize agriculture and farm production.

Even though it may be desired, organic and chemical-free production is a much greater task and challenge in some climates than in others, but yet pesticides have to be used nevertheless in large scale production. As you are aware, also, tropical agriculture can yield more than one harvest per year, which may double the absolute amount of yearly applied pesticides. It is worth noting that, in some cases, Brazilian agriculture is capable of producing up to three annual crops. So, while a farm in a milder climate uses specific products once during the year, a farm in Brazil has to incur in greater investments in products such as fertilizers and pesticides for each harvest Even though these elements mentioned above could have been a reason for consuming more pesticide, Brazil is still far away from being the greatest user worldwide.

Dear Mr Cullberg The Brazilian Embassy is totally available for any further information or clarification on this or any other matter. Please find enclosed to this letter additional information from the Brazilian government as well as other scientific figures that may be of your interest. The Brazilian Embassy takes this opportunity to cordially greet you, hoping that you take into consideration the above information.

Johannes Cullberg published a reply, thanking the embassy for reaching out to him, but also repeating his criticisms of Mr. Bolsonaro’s policies.

Dear Brazilian Embassy

Thank you for your open letter. I am truly humbled and honored that you as representatives for such a big country took the time to reply to me, a simple supermarket founder and ideologist.

Thank you also for making the point clear that that you are not in fact THE worst country in the world when it comes to the use of hazardous pesticides.

I salute you for that fifth-runner up position in 2017, but it seems you might actualy win in 2019. With that said, let me yet again explain why I do think that a boycott of Brazilian products is still necessary. You argue that your tropical climate craves a massive use of pesticides. According to the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility Brazil in 2016 alone registered 4,208 cases of intoxication by exposure to pesticides and 355 deaths by agricultural chemicals. I angue that these numbers are far from acceptable to me and should not be to anyone.

As if this was not enough the Amazon rainforest lost 739 sq km in May 2019 alone due to aggressive deforestation. This is equivalent to two football pitches every minute. And this data is from your own governments satellite. Together with Bolsonaro’s outspoken goal to extract precious minerals by mining the rain forest, this will continue to be the worst deforestation we have seen in modern history.

So, let me make my opinion crystal clear to the Brazilian Embassy as well as to anyone else who might read this. Now is the time, more than ever, when we all need to protect and take better care of our planet. Not accelerate in the complete opposite direction, like Mr Bolsonaro is doing. This is totaly incomprehensible to me, considering that he as a president is supposed to be a role model and ambassador for a whole country Mr Bolsonaro’s actions affect not only Brazill but our whole planet.

I say we all need to step up and show that we cannot accept one man’s profit driven decisions which are endangering the future of our children! So even if your local supermarket chooses not to boycott Brazilian products, you canl Every action, however small, makes a difference. So please join me in this fight for our planet’s survival.

We will not get a second chance.

With best regards and hope for change, Johannes Cullberg. Founder and CEO Paradiset Grocery

Although Brazil’s and Mr. Bolsonaro’s reply begs many questions, it is in and of itself is proof that Mr. Cullberg’s boycott and his campaign have achieved impact. By taking a stand, reaching out, and not letting go, we move the world towards an ecologically sustainable future, and away from bad behavior such as Bolsonaro’s.

So, let us not let them get away with this. Continue to support Johannes Cullberg’s boycott and campaign #BoyCottBrazilianFood.

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We Don’t Have Time is a social network for climate action. Together we are the solution to the climate crisis.

We Don't Have Time

We Don't Have Time's goal is to create a social media platform for the future, focused on the biggest challenge of our times - the climate. Through our platform, millions of members will unite to put pressure on leaders , politicians and corporations to act for the climate.