From: Reuters
Published August 28, 2007 08:50 AM

Brazil Trys To Calm Europe's Environmental Concerns

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Delegates from Brazil's farm sector will visit Europe next month on a mission to convince customers that the expanding agricultural business is not harming the environment.


They intend to show that many of the accusations made by green activists against Brazilian agriculture -- for example, that increased cane planting is destroying the Amazon rain forest -- do not reflect reality, Carlo Lovatelli, president of the Brazilian Agribusiness Association (Abag), said on Monday.


"The (environmental) demand coming from the international market is very strong and the level of information from our country on this subject is still low," Lovatelli said.


Abag is organizing the roadshow together with Brazil's foreign ministry.


The road show, which will take place in the main European capitals, will be the first initiative from Brazil's agriculture sector to counter the claims it is adding to environmental destruction, Lovatelli said.


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Activists groups have long complained that the fast expansion of Brazil's soy frontier was speeding up the destruction of forests.


Although producers and the industry have denied most of the accusations, some of the complaints are promoting changes in Brazil. About one year ago Brazilian soy crushers and exporters decided to stop buying soybeans grown in the Amazon basin.


Last week, farmers in Brazil's top soybean producing state, Mato Grosso, agreed to pull out the existing crop in preservation areas to comply with regulations.


Consumers, especially in Europe, started to demand proof of origin and soy industry leaders felt it was time to take action to prevent buyers from turning to other sources.


Brazil is the world's second-largest soybean producer, behind the United States.


"We have little problems that have to be addressed (but) we know a lot of things being said are not truth or at least are being exaggerated," Lovatelli said, citing soy planting in the Amazon forest.


He said soy is planted in only 1.5 million hectares of the Amazon, which has more than 400 million hectares. Part of it was planted in areas deforested many years ago, when legislation was not so severe as now.


"We have only 1.5 percent to 3 percent of Brazilian soy coming from the Amazon area," Lovatelli said.


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