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November 16, 2016

10% of Soybeans in Mato Grosso are non-GMO Varieties

While over 90% of the soybeans produced in Brazil are GMO varieties, there is one corner of the country where farmers still grow a significant amount of non-GMO soybeans, or what are called conventional soybeans. The area where most of Brazil's conventional soybeans are grown is in the western regions of the state of Mato Grosso.

Mato Grosso is expected to produce 29.8 million tons of soybeans in 2016/17 on 9.3 million hectares (22.9 million acres). The Soybean and Corn Producers Association of Mato Grosso (Aprosoja) estimates that 10% of the soybeans produced in the state are conventional varieties.

Mato Grosso is the largest producer of conventional soybeans in Brazil because of the unique way in which the soybeans are exported from western Mato Grosso. The conventional soybeans that are exported from that part of the state are exported through ports on the Amazon River where the conventional soybeans are kept separate from GMO soybeans. None of the other major ports in Brazil preserve the identity of conventional soybeans unless they are shipped in containers.

Farmers in the state are pleased with their conventional soybean production not only because they are as profitable as GMO varieties, but also because they offer farmers a way to better control weeds that have become resistant to Roundup herbicide. Aprosoja feels there will continue be a niche market for conventional soybeans especially in Europe and Asia and Embrapa agrees. In fact, Embrapa, which is the Brazilian agricultural research service, has opened a research center in Mato Grosso largely dedicated to the research and development of conventional soybean varieties suited for production in Mato Grosso.

The production and marketing of conventional soybeans will be the subject of a conference to be held next Thursday in Cuiaba, Mato Grosso. The conference will be sponsored by the Soybean and Corn Producer Association of Mato Grosso (Aprosoja), Embrapa, and various food companies. Conventional soybeans are often referred to in Brazil as "Free Soybeans" so the program next week is titled - the "Free Soybean Program for the 2016/17 Harvest."