Aug. 12, 2013
Between 2007 and 2012, the volume of pesticides (considering only the active ingredient) applied in crops grew 14%, reaching to 346,600 tons last year according to Sindag, which represents the manufacturers. In the same period, the total planted area in the country increased by 14.4%, summing up to 70.3 million hectares, according to IBGE.
Therefore, on average the pesticide consumption fell by 0.4% between 2007 and 2012, from 4.94 pounds to 4.92 pounds per acre, it is a very small number to try to define a trend over the period.
Another measure of efficiency in the use of pesticides is the relationship between the amount applied and the quantity of agricultural product harvested. In this case, the gains seem somewhat more concrete.
Last year it was used, on average, 380 grams of pesticides per ton of product, a reduction of 5.2% since 2007. In the same period, the Brazilian agricultural production grew by 20%, reaching a total of 908.6 million tons (considering temporary and perennial crops).
If you cannot say that there is an increase in indiscriminate application of pesticides in the country, the figures also show that the adoption of GM crops so far not fulfilled its propose- technology that promises to reduce the use of pesticides.
According to the consulting group Celeres, transgenic soybean and corn crops (which account for almost 60% of defensive industry revenue in Brazil) nearly tripled in size in the past five years, and the last harvest they occupied 36.6 million hectares - more than half of all cultivated area in the country. In 2012, nearly 90% of the soybeans and more than 2/3 of the corn planted in Brazil were genetically modified.
The corn is what draws the most attention because the technology embedded in transgenic seed (Bt) aims to make the plants resistant to insect attack. Even so, sales of insecticides in Brazil grew almost 34% between the years 2007 and 2012.
In the soybean case, the technology is Roundup Ready (developed by Monsanto), which makes the plant resistant to glyphosate - the poison capable of killing all kinds weeds. Thus, producers may choose to technology to replace the use of a group of herbicides by a single product. Even so, the use of herbicides grew more than 13.3% since 2007.
Critics of transgenic claim that the intensive use of technology creates resistance problems and other imbalances to nature which requires the application of additional doses of pesticides. That would be the cause of the crisis generated by the caterpillar attack in Bahia in the last harvest.
Brazil is the second largest market for pesticides in the world by market value - behind only the United States. Last year, sales reached US$ 9.7 billion, an increase of 14.4% from the year before. Since 2007, industry revenue accumulates a growth of over 80%, according to information from Sindag.
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