Brazil acts on threat to its crops

As climate change begins to negatively affect Brazilian crops, experts in tropical agriculture are developing genetically modified coffee, soy beans and other plants that can withstand higher temperatures, new pests, diseases and flooding, the Associated Press reported. Brazil is the world’s largest coffee producer and the second-largest grower of soybeans.


“What we are doing in Brazil is adapting, anticipating what is to come,” said Eduardo Assad, a researcher for Brazil’s agricultural research agency Embrapa. “We’ve been working on this for two years, and we are going to need five or 10 years to be prepared.”


At a climate-controlled research station in the southern state of Paraná, for example, scientists are preparing the first large-scale plantings to test the productivity of new genetically modified soy crops. Brazil’s soy crop, second only to that of the United States, would lose an estimated 20% of its cultivatable land by 2020.


Beans, corn, sunflower and cotton would suffer a similar decline due to high temperatures, Embrapa found.


Scientists have been isolating genes from drought-resistant plants, and then combining them with traditional crops. They aim to develop plants that respond well to hot, dry conditions while also thriving in “normal” weather. Modified bean and coffee varieties have not yet shown as much success as soy, researchers said.


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