By Hugh Finlay
Large soy producing companies in Brazil are now seriously thinking about growing non-genetically modified (also known as conventional) soy, to cater for increasing demand around the world. This is very significant, because Brazil is the largest exporter of soy in the world, and this development reflects the fact that the demand for non-GMO soy, and non-GMO crops in general is growing throughout the world. The Brazilian companies involved in the change are Amaggi SA, Imcopa International SA, and Caramuru Alimentos SA. Wininton Mendes, the coordinator of the program to encourage the use of non-GMO soy, which is run by The Mato Grosso farmers, said that growing fears about the safety of GMO crops is one of the reasons why the market for non-GMO soy is expanding. This is confirmed by Embraqa, the Brazilian government research agency.
The main demand for non-GMO soy is from Europe, which has been strongly opposed to GMO crops for almost 20 years. The European Union countries imported 2.7 million tons of non-GMO soy in 2015. In the US, demand for non-GMO soy is also increasing, with the US having to import 80% of its non-GMO soy in 2016, because US farmers could not supply the demand for non-GMO soy. Brazilian soy companies expect that countries in Asia, such as India and China will also want non-GMO soy beans. China is a big customer for Brazilian soy beans, importing millions of tons of soy a year. But demand for GMO soy oil in China has dropped, as Chinese people have started to fear GMO soy. Understandably, this has made the Brazilian soy companies uneasy, and the move is on in Brazil to increase production of non-GMO soy.
The price of non-GMO soy is rising (now at 12 reals per 60 kilos), and this is encouraging Brazilian farmers to grow more non-GMO soy. For instance, Endigo Dalcin, who had 3,000 acres of soy last year, is doubling the amount of land he will be using for growing non-GMO soy beans. Dalcin said "Some farmers in Mato Grosso are already planting 100% GM-free thanks to the premium and international demand." At the moment Mato Grosso produces over 13% of its soy harvest as non-GMO soy.
Brazilian farmers are looking around for more non-GMO soy bean seeds, as a shortage of these seeds is limiting the expansion of non-GMO soy production in Brazil. Blairo Maggi, the Brazilian agriculture minister and owner of Amaggi SA, is enthusiastic about the change.