After a few years of planting genetically-modified (GM) soy, Brazilian farmers are going to have to spend more money on agrochemicals, says Greenpeace agronomist, Ventura Barbeiro.
“The advantage of using less agrochemicals during the first years of GM soy use will disappear rapidly. Without a doubt there is an initial reduction in agrochemical use, but then the problem with weeds comes back,” he says.
According to Barbeiro, farmers in the US who plant GM soy that is resistant to certain weeds have found that after three years they have to use more herbicides, especially glifosato, that is manufactured by Monsanto. Monsanto is also the supplier for the GM soy seed.
Barbeiro says that already in the state of Mato Grosso, there are weeds that are resistant to glifosato.
With this problem in mind, the Brazilian Farm Research Corporation (Embrapa) has prepared three types of Roundup Ready (RR) GM soy seeds specially adapted for the Brazilian savannah (cerrado) region.
However, Barbeiro says that is not a good solution because RR seeds are patented by Monsanto.
“What Embrapa is doing is introducing Monsanto seeds into Brazilian varieties. That is not progress, at all. Farmers who use these Embrapa seeds will pay royalties to Embrapa and Monsanto.”
Barbeiro goes on to warn that continuous GM seed use is also detrimental to human health and the environment.
“Use of GM soy seeds will eventually contaminate rivers,” he declared.
“The solution is to use agroecological methods of farming, instead of agrochemistry. In the Cangará da Serra region, near Cuiabá, in Mato Grosso, Brazil’s largest agroecological soy farm is in operation. People should visit it,” says Barbeiro.
Speaking for Embrapa, Plínio Itamar de Souza, who headed the team that worked on the GM soy seeds for the corporation, says that they will require herbicides that are less aggressive against the environment. Souza says the research on the three types of soy seeds took seven years.
ABr – www.radiobras.gov.br