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Devastating Effects of EU-Mercosur Trade Deal Laid Out in Kerry Public Meeting

The importation of food made with pesticides banned in Europe, poisoned Amazonian children and an undercutting of Irish farmers’ produce. Those were the future results of a ratification of the EU-Mercosur Trade Deal discussed at a public meeting held in the Meadowlands Hotel, Tralee on Wednesday 17th April by MEP Grace O’Sullivan. 

The trade deal between the EU and the four South American countries of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay has been in the making for almost 2 decades, with an agreement finally made in 2019. The final wording however has yet to be voted on by the European Parliament and Council, with various human rights, environmental and now farming concerns holding off the progression of the deal until after the upcoming European Parliament elections. 

O’Sullivan opened the evening by sharing the political updates of the deal over the last 5 years. 

“We have seen a majority of groups in the Parliament being in favour of this deal and although we are yet to vote on it, we have seen some indicative votes which show that it will be passed by a coalition of conservative and centrist parties - most notably the European People’s Party and Renew Europe. In Ireland these are represented by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, and it’s interesting for me to hear them displaying skepticism on the airwaves in Ireland, while they and their groups vote the other way in the Parliament” O’Sullivan shared. 

Pesticides expert Larissa Miles Bombardi joined the conference online, sharing the impacts of increased pesticides usage in the Mercosur countries. Bombardi recently penned a book titled “Pesticides: A Chemical Colonialism” and the shocking impact of pesticides usage was laid bare. The scale of pesticides usage - most of which have been exported from European economies - is largely unknown in Ireland; in 2022 €6.6 billion worth of pesticides were exported outside by the EU, with over 10% of the weighted amount of this being pesticides which themselves are banned in the Union. 

Dr. Laura Kehoe also shared the impact of the trade deal on the indigenous populations of the Amazon, many of whose land has been confiscated for the growing of large soy bean plantations. While there has been a slowing down of this practice since former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro left office, new President of Brazil Luis Lula da Silva has not represented and protected these groups as much as had been hoped prior to his elections, Dr. Kehoe shared.  

Thomas O’Connor of Talamh Beo laid out what a different model of agriculture would like in Ireland and globally, focusing on smaller sustainable producers in a new model which would protect farmers' incomes and the environment hand-in-hand. The effects of the Common Agricultural Policy were explored, as well as the potential impact and investment of the Nature Restoration Law. 

“Our current CAP is not fit for purpose. A full third of the EU’s budget is spent on agriculture, but 80% of CAP payments currently end up with the biggest 20% of producers. The viability of small and medium farms is coming under attack across Europe, and when we try to change this in the most recent review of the CAP, the agri-business lobby and large producers managed to water down any meaningful change” MEP O’Sullivan shared. 

The event can be viewed at

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