Present estimates are that Brazil’s southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul, will plant some 4.1 million hectares with soybeans and harvest around 8 million tons. Out of that total, 90% will be genetically modified (GM). The estimate was made by agronomist Vicente Marques, a PT consultant at the Rio Grande do Sul state Legislative Assembly.
The planting season in Rio Grande do Sul runs from October 15 to December 15 and the government still has not made a final decision on the legality of planting GM soybeans.
Whatever happens, Marques says the government should maintain the contract (Termo de Responsabilidade) with farmers as it permits control and tracking.
This year a total of 81.000 farmers signed the contract, declaring that they were growing GM soybeans.
Soybean in Paraná
This growing year, Paraná should harvest 12.230 million tons of soybeans, 25% more than last year, according to the Secretariat of Agriculture and Supply’s Department of Rural Economy (Deral). Planting, which begins in October and ends in December, will cover an area 3.6% larger this year.
Paraná, one of the three states that comprise the Southern region of the country, maintains its opposition to transgenic products, especially soybeans.
According to Governor Roberto Requião, the state is backed by the National Council on the Environment (Conama), presided by the Minister of Environment, Marina Silva.
This week the council approved a motion in support of the initiative and the state’s campaign to make its territory free of transgenics. Paraná has been fighting for this status since October, 2003.
According to Requião, Minister Silva backs the state government’s decision to maintain Paraná as a stronghold for the production of conventional soybeans.
In October, 2003, the Minister sent a representative to the ceremony to promulgate State Law nº 14162, which prohibits the cultivation and commercialization of transgenic soybeans in the state.
The Port of Paranaguá, which is located in Paraná and is one of the country’s most important grain shipment terminals, also refuses to accept transgenic soybeans.
The Secretariat of Agriculture is intensifying its farm inspection activities in order to reduce the area in which genetically modified soybeans are planted from the 489 hectares scattered among 31 plots discovered by the government during the last harvest.
The head of the Division of Inspection, Carlos Alberto Salvador, recalled that on all these properties the plants were isolated and the harvest was monitored. The crop was sent to other states to be sold.
Organic soybeans, which dispense with the use of pesticides, have been gaining a prominent position in Paraná. Of all the organic products gathered in the state in the last harvest, there were 12 thousand tons of soybeans, planted mainly in the northern, western, and southwestern parts of the state.
Nearly all of Parana´s organic soybean crop was exported to Japan, Europe, and the United States, according to information provided by the state coordinator of Organic Farming, Iniberto Hammerschidt.
Organic agriculture has been growing in Paraná at an annual rate of 40%, surpassing the world average of 20%. Production in the state jumped from 4,365 tons in the 1996/97 growing year to 52,270 tons in the 2002/03 growing year.