Brazil Will Allow Planting of GM Soybeans

In a big blow to opponents of biotechnology, Brazil announced last week that it will allow farmers to plant genetically modified soybeans, ending its role as one of the leading nations opposed to GM crops. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s government had previously promised to oppose GM plantings, but ultimately bowed to pressure from agribusiness interests. Brazil is currently the world’s No. 2 soybean producer, but it may surpass the U.S. to gain the top spot in the next year. The nation’s boom in soybean production is also fueling destruction of the Amazon rainforest, as farmers clear ever-larger areas for soybean fields. This trend contributed to a 40 percent jump in deforestation in Brazil last year, with nearly 10,000 square miles of the Amazon razed, a swath of land the size of Maryland.