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March 21, 2012

GMO Crop Varieties Continue to Gain Acreage in Brazil

Brazilian farmers continue to increase their use of GMO soybean and corn varieties. According to a study conducted by Expedicao Safra Gazete da Povo (a newspaper in the state of Parana), GMO crops now occupy 28.7 million hectares of cropland in Brazil. This represents approximately 85% of the soybeans grown in Brazil and 50% of the corn. GMO soybean varieties have been approved for use in Brazil for six growing seasons and corn has been approved for three growing seasons. Brazil has the second largest acreage of GMO crops only trailing the United States.

The vast majority of new seed research being conducted in Brazil also involves GMO varieties. Seed companies confirm that Brazilian farmers prefer GMO soybean varieties that are early maturing and have an indeterminate growth pattern. These types of soybeans are more easily double cropped with corn and their indeterminate growth pattern makes them more resistant to short periods of moisture stress. The use of GMO soybean varieties is expected to increase even further with the introduction of Intacta soybean varieties that are the successor to Roundup Ready soybeans and offer additional resistance to insects.

The one area of Brazil where farmers continue to plant conventional soybeans is in western Mato Grosso. The farmers in the region have the unique ability to continue producing conventional soybeans because they can export their crops through ports on the Amazon River that insures that the soybeans will not be cross contaminated with GMO soybeans. As a result, European buyers can offer a premium of generally US$ 0.50 per bushel for the non-GMO soybeans. Since the seed companies have lost interest in producing conventional soybean varieties, the Brazilian research service, Embrapa, has expanded their research efforts to continue developing competitive conventional soybean varieties.