In Brazil, crops are contaminating food and water consumed by both people and livestock, researchers believe.
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Globally, Brazil applies the second highest amount of pesticides. Their use has soared since 2000, as has the incidence of colon cancer deaths. Now, a bill aiming to deregulate pesticides is moving through Brazil’s Congress.

Colon cancer is the third most common type of cancer world-wide, accounting for about ten per cent of all cases. It is more common in developed nations, but a few countries in Latin America, including Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, are now approaching the levels of incidence seen in the developed world.

A team of researchers from Brazil, Germany, and the United Kingdom recently mapped the use of pesticides across Brazil between 2000 and 2012. They then compared this to the number of deaths from colon cancer during the same period. They observed an overall increase of colon cancer, which was correlated with the amount of pesticides sold and used in the country. The study was published in November in the journal Chemosphere.

Analysing data published by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, the researchers found that in 2000, just over 162 million tons of pesticides was sold in Brazil.

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