Brazil Experiments with Genetic Modification of Soy
Scientific advancements regarding genetic modifications have enhanced agricultural economies all throughout the globe. Most recently, researchers have implemented a gene in soy that resists drought. Formerly used in sunflowers, the gene has been transferred and is being applied to soy in Brazil. Agriculture plays a prominent role in Brazil’s economy, accounting for 36% of exports; $7.9 billion alone was in agricultural exports to China. This reconstructed soy will not only allow for drought resistance, but also the ability to grow in salty soil, thus allowing soy development in previously uncultivated areas in Latin America. Of course, this expansion may lead to issues, both environmentally and economically.
The rising desire for both soy beans and soy oil has resulted in rapid deforestation already in the northern part of Brazil. Greenpeace representatives in Argentina predict that the release of genetically modified soy will lead to even more deforestation in areas that had previously been protected, because soy had been unable to cultivate there due to soil salinity or drought. Although more realistically, soy will probably be cultivated in the south of Brazil, which is already deforested, and is susceptible to drought, which is no longer an issue.
Other Latin American nations are interested in this new form of soy, especially Colombia. Colombia’s hills are becoming attractive domestically, as well as to investors. Colombia seeks to promote soy production in the nation instead of having to import more than 500,000 tons of soy annually. Although, Colombia seems to be in a soy stalemate because the Free Trade Agreement with the United States will prevent Colombia from reaping in the full benefits of soy exportation. As for Brazil though, this modified soy seed should increase exports and possibly lead to other genetic advancements in agriculture.