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BRAZIL
No more biofuels for Amazonia
10/10/2009
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Government bans sugarcane plantations in protected areas.

Brazil, the world´s largest producer of sugarcane ethanol, will present a proposal at the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen in December to ban the production of the crop in the Amazon region, the Pantanal wetlands and other areas, including nature reserves and indigenous reservations.

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva´s government sent Congress a bill for the project, which seeks to reduce biofuel production, which requires large swaths of land, on protected areas.

Environment Minister Carlos Minc said the initiative will make “our ethanol 100 percent green.”

Agriculture Minister Reinhold Stephanes said that “more than 92% of Brazil´s land” will not be used for sugarcane production, and the 66 million available hectares could only afford an expansion of 6 million hectares in the next 10 years.

Currently, 9 million hectares in Brazil, or 1 percent of the country´s area, is used for sugarcane production, with a yield of 634 million metric tons of sugar and 28.6 billion liters of ethanol expected for this year.

The measure seeks to avoid deforestation, particularly, slash-and-burn agriculture, and avoid the crop from moving on agricultural areas where food is produced. The areas must also have natural irrigation and be able to be mechanically harvested.

Environmental groups say the lack of widespread mechanical farming causes the use of campesino labor, workers who are often exploited and even subjected to conditions of slavery.

Brazil has been producing ethanol since the 1970s and has developed technology to allow cars to use both gasoline and ethanol. The gasoline sold in Brazil is 25 percent ethanol.
—Latinamerica Press.


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