BRAZIL – The country is going to invest in developing non-genetically altered (non-GMO) grain. The programme will be carried out by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation and 11 farmers’ organizations.
In the coming years, approximately one million Brazilian reals (BRR; US$560 million) will be invested in researching and promoting the development of regular soy seeds, to supply more demanding consumers of the product on the international market.
The organisations involved in the project will work in partnership with the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), which has the world’s largest active bank of genetic material for developing gtain cultivars for tropical regions.
The research on non-genetically altered soy will be carried out under the Soja Livre (Free Soy) Program, launched on 9 November at the Embrapa headquarters. Participants will include 11 farmer-related organizations, among them the Brazilian Association of Growers of Non-Genetically Altered Grain (Abrange).
The first results in soy seed production should come out within two to three years. Initially, the programme will cover regions of the state of Mato Grosso in which traditional soy is grown.
To the president of the Mato Grosso State Soy and Maize Farmers Association (Aprosoja), Glauber Silveira da Silva, every variety of soy – regular or transgenic – is important, but the specific demands of consumers need to be met.
He explains that regular soy has a slightly higher added-value and besides, trading companies make purchases based on product certification, which is currently done by seven enterprises in the country. Mr Silva highlighted that Brazil is “the only country able to produce traditional soy on a large scale,” hence the importance of the research.
According to calculations, the demand for soy should increase by 100 million tonnes within a few years. The president of Aprosoja underscored Embrapa’s role in heading the research work, as “there is an entire structure of multinational companies working on future-oriented agribusiness planning”.
To the researchers, gaining increasing knowledge of soy development and farming is a real demand, due to the diverse weather conditions and the need for using specific seed varieties depending on the region of the country. “That is why the creation of new cultivars is advisable,” said the president of the Abrange, César Borges de Souza.
Another reason for investing in research on conventional soy is the risk posed by the decreasing supply. The world’s second largest soy-producing country, the United States, offers only 10 per cent of conventional soy. Brazil, in turn, is reducing its supply of regular soy at an annual rate of 10 per cent. To the coordinator of the Free Soy Program, Ivan Paghi, if the situation is not reversed, within five years the country will be “in the same situation as North Americans”.
Last year, Brazil produced 60 per cent transgenic soy and 40 per cent of the regular type. Global production of all varieties is 260 million tonnes per year, and in South America alone, it reaches 134 million tonnes. The United States produces 91 tonnes, and Brazil produces around 69 million tonnes. Among the Brazilian states, Mato Grosso produces 18.7 million tonnes and Paranà, 14.1 million tonnes.
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