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December 23, 2011

Brazil Corn Crop 67% GMO, Safrinha Corn Crop 82% GMO

For the 2011/12 growing season, Brazilian farmers continued their aggressive adoption of GMO corn hybrids. According to Embrapa, the Brazilian agricultural research service, 67% of all the corn grown in Brazil during the 2011/12 growing season will have at least one GMO trait and for the safrinha corn crop that will be planted in January and February, they estimate that 82% of the crop will be GMO hybrids. GMO corn usage in Brazil during the 2011/12 growing season represents an increase of 32% compared to last year.

The trend in Brazil, just like it is in the U.S., is for more usage of stacked hybrids with multiple resistance to soil pests, leaf-eating pests, and now herbicide resistance. The more advanced corn hybrids in the U.S. contain up to eight genes that offers resistance to multiple pests and herbicides. That level of technology is not yet available in Brazil because the seed companies must transfer the genes into corn hybrids adapted to Brazil's tropical climate, but it should be available in Brazil within a few years.

The use of this new technology was the main topic of discussion at the Eleventh National safrinha Seminar held in Lucas do Rio Verde, Mato Grosso at the end of November. Representative of the multinational seed companies were on hand to explain the new traits that will be available in the next few years including improved resistance to dry weather.

The site of the seminal was significant because the municipality of Lucas do Rio Verde has one of the largest acreage of safrinha corn production in Brazil. Dry weather during the grain filling period is always a major concern for safrinha corn production, so any improvement in tolerance to dry weather would be very important to the farmers in the region. Corn production in the municipality is almost exclusively in the form of safrinha corn planted after the harvest of early-maturing soybeans. safrinha corn planting in the region generally begins in early January and concludes by the end of February. Surveys indicate that 60% of the farmers in the region intend to plant Roundup Ready corn hybrids for the safrinha.

Brazilian farmers have adopted GMO corn technology extremely fast given the fact that the hybrids have only been available for a few years. In fact, they would have probably adopted the new technology even faster had there been adequate supplies of seed available.