01:31 07.11.2019URL short
Brazil has lifted a 10-year ban on sugarcane cultivation in the Amazon rainforest and central wetlands, the Official Gazette said on Wednesday, a move environmentalists criticized as another attack on the country's sensitive ecosystems.
The government said the decision, signed by President Jair Bolsonaro and the Ministries of Economy and Agriculture, was taken because the 2009 decree was obsolete and other regulatory instruments, such as the new Forest Law and the RenovaBio program, were more efficient for this. type of supervision.
Although sugarcane cultivated areas are being reduced in Brazil, green groups fear that the crop may be planted in newly deforested areas in the Amazon, the world's largest rainforest.
Environmentalists said the decision was another step by the Bolsonaro government to reduce protections for the Amazon, whose preservation is considered important for controlling greenhouse gas emissions.
The end of the ban will expose the Amazon and other vulnerable areas to "predatory economic expansion," said Brazil's Climate Observatory, a network of green groups, including the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International and others, in a statement.
Charlie Riedel / AP
In the first quarter of this year alone, US ethanol imports grew fivefold
Sugarcane Industry Celebrates Decision
Unica, the Brazilian sugarcane industry group, reacted by calling the ban on planting in the Amazon anachronistic and said other tools, such as the new Brazilian Forest Code, are sufficient to regulate agricultural activities in environmentally vulnerable areas.
Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva introduced the ban as sugarcane ethanol was being defended as an environmentally friendly biofuel that would help countries reduce their carbon footprints. Brazil is the world's largest producer of sugar cane.
Excitement at the prospects for ethanol led to concerns that expanding sugarcane cultivation in Brazil could lead to deforestation and occupy land that could be used for food production.
However, the market did not expand. Exports remain limited, with Brazil and the United States being the only countries that produce and use ethanol on a large scale. Instead, sugarcane acreage has been reduced over the past five years, in part due to low global sugar prices.
Former Environment Minister Carlos Minc, who was behind Lula's decision to introduce the ban, lamented that reversing the decree would undermine the ecological image of Brazilian agriculture.
"This decision will tarnish the image of Brazilian ethanol in the world," Minc wrote in a Twitter post.