Recent trends in pesticides in crops: A critical review of the duality of risks-benefits and the Brazilian legislation issue

Environ Res. 2023 Jul 1:228:115811. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2023.115811. Epub 2023 Apr 7.


Due to the increasing population worldwide, in recent years, an exponential increase in agricultural practices has occurred in order to attend to the growing demand for food. Unfortunately, this increase is not associated with the supply of foodstuffs free of environmental pollutants. In Brazil, agriculture is one of the most important economic pillars, making the country one of the largest consumers of pesticides around the world. The intense use of pesticides, mainly glyphosate, 2,4-D, and atrazine, constitutes an essential factor in the viability of this great agricultural productivity. Sugarcane, corn, soybean, and citrus crops consume around 66% of the total pesticides worldwide, representing 76% of the planted area. Pesticide residues have been frequently detected in food and the environment, becoming a significant concern for human health. Monitoring programs for pesticide use are essential to reduce the potential negative impacts on the environment and improve the overall efficiency and sustainability of their use. However, in Brazil, the approval status of pesticide-active ingredients is very discrepant compared to other agricultural countries. Moreover, the duality of benefits and risks of pesticide application creates an economic and toxicological conflict. In this paper, we have critically reviewed the duality of risks-benefits of the use of pesticides in agriculture and the current Brazilian legislation issues. We have also compared this flawed legislation with other countries with high economic potential. Due to the negative environmental impacts on soil and water by the high levels of pesticides, remediation techniques, sustainable agriculture, and the development of new technologies can be considered some viable alternatives to reduce the levels in these compartments. Besides, this paper includes some recommendations that can be included in the coming years.

Keywords: Brazil; Crops; Food safety; Legislation; Pesticides; Risks-benefits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture*
  • Brazil
  • Humans
  • Pesticide Residues / analysis
  • Pesticides* / analysis
  • Pesticides* / toxicity
  • Risk Assessment


  • Pesticide Residues
  • Pesticides