Brazil farmers say GMO corn no longer resistant to pests

July 29, 2014

Caroline Stauffer – Reuters, 7/28/2014

Genetically modified corn seeds are no longer protecting Brazilian farmers from voracious tropical bugs, increasing costs as producers turn to pesticides, a farm group said on Monday.

Producers want four major manufacturers of so-called BT corn seeds to reimburse them for the cost of spraying up to three coats of pesticides this year, said Ricardo Tomczyk, president of Aprosoja farm lobby in Mato Grosso state.

“The caterpillars should die if they eat the corn, but since they didn’t die this year producers had to spend on average 120 reais ($54) per hectare … at a time that corn prices are terrible,” he said.

Read more…


Brazil is set to become the world’s biggest soy producer — and that might be bad news for its forests

July 28, 2014

Gerry Hadden – Public Radio International, 7/28/2014

It’s covered by millions of acres of industrial farms and deep green soy fields. If this year’s harvest — the best in Brazilian history — comes in as expected, Brazil is poised to surpass the US and become the world’s largest soy producer. Soy beans have boosted Brazil’s economy and even brought President Dilma Roussef to Mato Grosso to congratulate farmers in person.

But in a nearby indigenous village, no one is celebrating. The boom in soy production coincided with a spike in deforestation. And Hiparidi Toptiro, an activist from the indigenous Xavante people, says local soy farmers are willing to do anything for a chunk of the forest where the Xavante live.

“Throughout our lands, people show up wielding false deeds to the area,” Toptiro says.  “And they have begun to plant soybeans inside our lands. They pay off one of our villages with a little money, which complicates the relationship between all of us in the reserve. “ He calls it dividing and conquering with trinkets.

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Brazil’s indigenous tribes: The low cost solution to climate change?

July 28, 2014

Fabíola Ortiz – RTCC, 7/28/2014

“Securing Rights, Combating Climate Change: How Strengthening Community Forest Rights Mitigates Climate Change” was launched jointly by World Resources Institute (WRI) and Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) last week.

It says indigenous territories (ITs) in Brazil stand as a successful model for a deforestation resistance.

The study reveals that strengthening community forest rights is a low cost strategy to preserve at least 37 billion tonnes of carbon “safely stored” around the world.

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Brazil could meet all its food demand by 2040 without cutting down another tree

July 25, 2014

Mongobay.com, 7/24/2014

Better utilization of its vast areas of pasturelands could enable Brazil to dramatically boost agricultural production without the need to clear another hectare of Amazon rainforest, cerrado, or Atlantic forest, argues a new study published in the journal Global Environmental Change.

Modeling agricultural yield potential, Brazilian researchers from the International Institute for Sustainability, Brazil’s agricultural research agency Embrapa, and the national space research agency INPE find that Brazil could turn more than 30 million hectares of land that is currently pasture over to more productive crops, increasing overall agricultural output.

“Our analysis shows that Brazil already has enough to absorb the largest expansion of agricultural production in the world in the next three decades, without deforesting an additional hectare of natural areas and agricultural livestock areas,” said lead author Bernardo Strassburg, a professor at Pontificia Universidade Catolica (PUC-Rio) and executive director at the International Institute for Sustainability. “The key is to increase productivity of the pasture areas. Today we use only a third of the potential of our pasture, and if we pass this potential and use half of it, in 30 years we could increase the production of meat by 50%, and release 32 million acres for other crops such as soybeans and planted forests.”

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Brazil chooses ambassador to return to the OAS

July 24, 2014

Cláudia Trevisan, Washington Correspondent – O Estado de S. Paulo, 7/24/2014

Brazil prepares itself to take the last step in the process of stabilizing its relations with the Organization of American States (OAS) and should announce shortly the name of the diplomat Sérgio Danese as new ambassador of the country to the institution.

The post has been vacant since April of 2011, when Ruy Casaes was called back to Brasilia in protest against an injunction of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) that determined the suspension of the construction of Usina Hidrelétrica in Belo Monte. Since then, the post has been held by Minister Breno Dias da Costa.

The removal of the ambassador just over three years ago was one of the methods adopted by Brazil in retaliation to the decision of the IACHR, given in proceedings initiated at the request of authorities who represented indigenous populations.

Read more [in Portuguese]…


Brazil’s Coocafe Sees Its Coffee Output Down by About One-Third This Year

July 24, 2014

Jeffrey T. Lewis – The Wall Street Journal, 7/22/2014

Brazilian coffee cooperative Coocafe expects production among its members to fall by about one-third this year because of the recent drought, its president said Tuesday.

Coocafe, which represents about 6,000 growers around the town of Lajinha in Minas Gerais state and some in the neighboring state of Espirito Santo, expects to produce between 900,000 and 1 million bags of coffee. Last year, the farmers produced 1.5 million bags of coffee.

The harvest is nearly over, said Coocafe President Fernando Romeiro de Cerqueira. Output would have fallen more, but the group’s farmers are harvesting coffee from a bigger area this year compared with last year, he said.

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In Brazil, government, health groups work to shield isolated Indian tribes from disease

July 23, 2014

Dom Phillips – The Washington Post, 7/23/2014

Despite working for seven years with indigenous tribes in Brazil that have had no contact with the outside world, the closest Carlos Travassos had ever been to any was earlier this month, when he and his team treated seven Indians for the flu.

Travassos, who is the general coordinator of isolated and recently contacted Indians for the Brazilian government’s indigenous affairs department, FUNAI, had one word for the encounter: “tense.”

Late last month, the group of seven Indians first walked into a village called Simpatia — or ‘Niceness’ — deep in the Brazilian Amazon, near the Peruvian border, in the Kampa Indian reserve in Acre state. The Ashaninka — a so-called contacted tribe because its members have had encounters with outsiders — live there.

Read more…


Brazil to unleash GM-mosquito swarms to fight dengue

July 23, 2014

Sue Branford – New Scientist, 7/23/2014

Time to unleash the mozzies? Genetically modified mosquitoes will be raised on a commercial scale for the first time, in a bid to stem outbreaks of dengue fever in Brazil. But it is unclear how well it will work.

Next week biotech company Oxitec of Abingdon, UK, will open a factory in Campinas, Brazil, to raise millions of modified mosquitoes. Once released, they will mate with wild females, whose offspring then die before adulthood. That should cut the number of dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. In April, Brazil’s National Technical Commission for Biosecurity (CTNBio) approved their commercial use.

The mosquitoes could be an important step forward in controlling dengue, which affects more than 50 million people every year, with a 30-fold increase in the last 50 years. There is no vaccine or preventive drug, so all anyone can do is to spray insecticide on a large scale in a bid to kill dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

Read more…


Africa: Brics Summits Make Little Progress On Science Cooperation

July 21, 2014

Fabiola Ortiz – All Africa, 7/21/2014

Scientific cooperation among the BRICS countries lags far behind its potential, according to Brazilian experts speaking after last week’s BRICS summit in Brazil.

The 6th Summit of Heads of State and of Government of BRICS – a multilateral forum of the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – held in Fortaleza and Brasília (14-16 July) has agreed to set up New Development Bank, which will emphasise social and economic inclusion.

The final declaration reinforces the commitment to strengthening cooperation in science, technology and innovation, and calls for “co-generating new knowledge and innovative products, services and processes utilising appropriate funding and investment instruments”.

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Brazil approves new pesticide to combat coffee beetle

July 18, 2014

Reuters, 7/18/2014

Brazil’s government approved the use of pesticides with the active ingredient cyantraniliprole to fight the coffee borer beetle, a note published in the country’s Official Gazette said on Friday.

Coffee cooperatives had been lobbying for the approval after the government said it would no longer allow farmers to use another product, endolsulfan, to prevent the beetle from damaging crops.

Cyantraniliprole is approved for use in the United States, the European Union, Canada and Japan, according to a statement from Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry.

Read more…


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