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August 2, 2017

Soybean-Free Institute (Soja Livre) Created in Mato Grosso

The state of Mato Grosso is the only large soybean producing state in Brazil that still grows a significant quantity of conventional soybeans which are non-GMO soybeans. The Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea) estimates that 13.7% of the soybean acreage in the state in 2016/17 was planted to traditional soybeans which equated to 1.2 million hectares.

To further promote conventional soybean production, growers have created the Soybean-Free Institute (meaning free of GMO traits). The soybean-free movement has already shown positive results, but they felt it needed better organization. The goal of the organization is the promotion of conventional soybean production and members feel that the new organization will be better able to promote conventional soybeans around the world.

Members of the newly created institute include: soybean farmers, seed producers, fertilizer suppliers, food manufactures, grain exporters, non-governmental organizations, and foundations. Mato Grosso farmers produce conventional soybeans for the niche markets in Europe and Asia. During the last growing season, buyers paid a premium as high as $1.75 per bushel for the conventional soybeans. Another advantage for using conventional soybean is that it is easier to control Roundup resistant weeds. One downside of growing conventional soybeans is that it takes a higher level of management skill to organize the planting and herbicide applications.

Farmers in western Mato Grosso are in a unique position to grow conventional soybeans because soybeans from western Mato Grosso are exported out of the port of Porto Velho on the Madeira River in the western Amazon. There are storage and loading facilities at that port that prohibit the entrance of GMO soybeans. That prohibition keeps the conventional soybeans from being contaminated with GMO soybeans. No other port in Brazil offers that assurance for bulk exported soybeans.