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Biotechnology contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Agriculture will be crucial for Brazil to meet its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030, adopted at the United Nations Conference on the Post 2015 Development Agenda. According to Carlos Clemente Cerri, professor of the Center for Nuclear Energy in Agriculture (CENA / USP), it will be the energy and agricultural sectors that will most contribute to reach the level of reduction indicated by the Brazilian government. "In this scenario, soybean biodiesel, driven by biotechnology, will appear as a mitigator of global warming," says Cerri.


Still according to Cerri, biotechnology is fundamental to increase soybean productivity, avoiding the need to expand planted area. By producing more in the same area, it will be possible to reduce the impact of agribusiness on Brazilian carbon dioxide emissions. "The importance of biotechnology will be even greater with the advancement of research to develop transgenic varieties that take advantage of Nitrogen more efficiently," he added.

In the Biological Nitrogen Fixation (FBN) process, the gas present in the atmosphere is converted into forms that can be used by the plants, becoming an ally in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. FBN is considered by the Brazilian researchers as one of the most sustainable technologies for local agriculture and, through the Low Carbon Agriculture Program (ABC), has been encouraged by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA).


With regard to the carbon sequestration of the atmosphere, the process of carbon dioxide removal and the release of oxygen through photosynthesis, each hectare of soy is capable of withdrawing 500 kilos of gas. Considering the latest survey by Companhia Nacional de Abastecimento (Conab), the soybean production area in Brazil will reach 33.1 million hectares in the 2015/2016 harvest. "This will mean that about 17 million tons of carbon will be sequestered," he said.


Purdue University in Indiana has conducted studies that simulate the consequences of banning the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The research concluded that the non-use of transgenics in agriculture would increase greenhouse gas emissions since, to compensate for the loss of productivity, it would be necessary to increase cultivated area by advancing over areas of native vegetation and environmental preservation.


Based on the 2014 crop, when approximately 18 million farmers in 28 countries cultivated about 181 million hectares of GMO crops, the researchers concluded that if they were replaced by conventional crops, the soybean crop would have a 5.2% Of corn 11.2% and that of cotton 18.6%. To offset this loss, an additional 102,000 hectares would be needed only in the United States, reaching 1.1 million hectares worldwide.


Source: Redação CIB, June 2016

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