Study Notes that Social and Environmental Benefits of Biotechnology are Profitable for Brazilian Agriculture

By Abrasem, PRNE
Monday, March 21, 2011

The transgenic corn planted for the first time in Brazil in 2008 is now consolidating itself as a case for world agricultural biotechnology

SAO PAULO, March 22, 2011 - Stop using enough fresh water to supply Recife and Porto Alegre for a
year. Reduce the volume of CO2 emissions going into the atmosphere by the
equivalent of what would be offset by 22 million trees. Refrain from burning
enough fuel to fill the tanks of 465 thousand diesel vehicles. Stop spreading
more than 120 thousand tons of pesticides on Brazilian fields. These are some
of the benefits from the adoption of biotechnology in Brazilian agriculture
projected for the next 10 years, according to data ascertained by Celeres
Ambiental in a study for the Associacao Brasileira de Sementes e Mudas
(ABRASEM - Brazilian Association of Seeds and Seedlings).

"Modernizing agriculture and investing in technology are the main
approaches for rural farmers, so that we can overcome the challenge of
feeding more and more people while maintaining or reducing the productive
area, generating revenue for the farmer and minimizing the impact on the
environment," said Narciso Barison Neto, the association's president,. "In
the case of seeds, which is the business of members of ABRASEM, biotechnology
is the main technological tool to unite productivity, competitive costs and
reduction of environmental harm."

In the second half of 2010, Celeres (which is responsible for the
economic part of the study) and Celeres Ambiental visited 396 rural
properties in different parts of Brazil for the fourth consecutive year,
conducting a survey in the field of the social, environmental and economic
benefits of the genetically modified crops currently approved in the country
- soybeans, corn and cotton.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
(FAO), the world must have the capacity to produce food for 9 billion people
in 2050, on a planet with increasingly fewer available productive areas.
"This means that farmers must be more efficient with their crops and reduce
their dependency on pesticides and excessive water use. The increase of
agricultural production must be sustainable, and biotechnology shows that
this is possible in Brazil," said biologist Paula Carneiro, an environmental

The evolution of transgenic corn

The case of transgenic corn in Brazil is exemplary in the context of
world agricultural biotechnology. Keeping track of the four most recent
harvests at ground level, Celeres has borne witness, since the first planting
in Brazil in 2008, to developments in the adoption of the first
insect-resistant transgenic varieties. "What was most striking was the rapid
adoption of the technology by growers," notes Anderson Galvao, who oversaw
Celeres' economic assessment of transgenic crops in the ABRASEM study.

In the 2009/2010 harvest analyzed in the studies, 32.5% of Brazilian corn
production used transgenic varieties. One year later - and three years after
the arrival of GM corn in the fields - this level reached 57%, going up to
75% for the winter harvest. By way of comparison, according to Galvao, GM
soybeans, whose planting in Brazil was approved for the 2005/2006 harvest
(but were already being planted on Brazilian soil illegally since the
beginning of the decade), took nine years to achieve the same 57% for the
total Brazilian soybean crop.

Biologist Paula Carneiro points out that it was primarily the social and
environmental benefits of planting transgenic corn that stimulated the rapid
acceptance by growers, since they entailed significant economies of inputs.
In the case of pesticides, for example, in the 2009/2010 harvest, farmers
economized the equivalent of 2.7 thousand tons of active ingredients in their
applications to their crops. This amount was double the reduction they
achieved in the previous harvest (2008/2009), which was the first involving
transgenic hybrids in Brazil.

In the next ten years, the adoption of biotechnology for growing corn
will make possible a reduction in the area sown with this crop of 49.5
million de hectares. "This result should be seen as an environmental and
economic saving, that growers will be able to make use of later on, and thus
they will be acting in a more sustainable fashion. The other crops that are
adopting agricultural biotechnology in Brazil - cotton and soybeans - also
allow for a no less significant saving in the use of farm land, of 9.3
million hectares," Paula Carneiro explains.

    Breakdown of environmental benefits with the adoption of biotechnology
    in Brazil
    (Annual amounts based on projected adoption)

                                    00/01       08/09      09/10        19/20
    H2O: Net benefit (billion
     liters/year)                     0.4         2.1        3.6         18.1
    Diesel: Net benefit
     (million liters /year)           3.7        17.8       29.7        150.8
    CO2 equivalent: Net
     benefit (1000 tons
     CO2/year)                        9.8        47.1       78.8        399.9
    Use of active ingredients:
     Net benefit (1000 tons
     a.i./year)                       0.2         1.3        2.7         17.2

    Source: Celeres

The full range of studies is available at the websites of ABRASEM,
Celeres Ambiental and Celeres on the internet:, and

About Abrasem

The AssociaƧao Brasileira de Sementes e Mudas (Abrasem - Brazilian
Association of Seeds and Seedlings) represents various segments of the seed
and seedling sector in Brazil, starting with the beginning of the
agricultural production cycle, bringing technical assistance to rural
growers, supported by research and development of new varieties of plants
that are most adaptable to the country's varied geographic regions. Founded
in 1972, Abrasem brings together 12 associations of growers of seeds and
seedlings, in addition to the research segment (obtainers), and is comprised
of 620 grower members, 4 thousand technicians and 15 thousand salespeople, in
addition to creating nearly 220 thousand direct and indirect jobs. Come for a

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Bruno Viecili, +55-(11)-3034-3639, bruno at

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