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Posts Tagged ‘Brazil Agriculture’

Brazil Agriculture in State of Emergency due to Pest Infestation

Posted by feww on November 20, 2013

States of emergency declared for Brazilian states of Mato Grosso, Goiás and Bahia

Outbreaks of the tiny Helicoverpa caterpillars have been reported in at least 21  states across Brazil, where the pest caused an estimated $4.7 billion dollars worth of damage in 2012.

Mato Grosso is the leading soy state of Brazil, while the central state of Goiás produces about 85% of Brazil’s processing tomatoes.

helicoverpa caterpillar

“Smaller than a human thumb, and with a knack for ploughing through soy, corn and cotton, the Helicoverpa has been terrorizing Asia, Australia and Africa since the 19th century. In India and China, some 50% of pesticides are used to kill the caterpillars. But they hadn’t appeared in South America until last year. In response, Brazil’s agriculture industry recently approved the importation of more powerful pesticides to fend off the menacing insects, but plenty of damage has already been done: The tiny caterpillars cost Brazil an estimated 4.7 billion dollars last summer alone. Outbreaks have been reported in as many as 21 different states throughout the country,” said a report.

The pest is believed to be a serious threat to crops, and could affect Brazil’s soy and corn supplies, and subsequently global grain prices, said the report.

Other crops threatened by the pest include, in addition to the ones listed above, lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers, bean, broccoli, cabbage, chrysanthemum, eggplant, head cabbage, green bean, lettuce, okra, pea, pepper, strawberry and watermelon.

The entire life cycle occurs in 55-70 days. Generations are continuous in some tropical climates.

“In March this year GMWatch reported that Brazilian farmers were facing huge losses as GM Bt cotton and other crops were eaten by a plague of caterpillar pests called Helicoverpa, or corn ear worm. Damage was forecast at 2 billion Brazilian Real.

“In fact the losses to farmers turned out to be five times as high, reaching 10 billion Brazilian Real so far, according to an article for AgroLink, below. It’s clear that the problem isn’t solved yet, so losses could escalate even higher.

“Brazilian crops that have fallen victim to the pest include cotton, soybean, corn, sorghum, beans and tomato, with the first three crops dominated by GM varieties.

“Back in March 2013, cotton consultant Celito Breda said that the plague was due to a number of factors. He named one as the expansion of the cultivation of transgenic maize resistant to caterpillars, whose toxin eliminates 100% of the species Spodoptera (armyworms) but only 10% of Helicoverpa. Breda said that earlier in the plantings of non-GM corn, the caterpillar Spodoptera, which is a cannibal, contributed to the control of Helicoverpa. Without natural enemies, the population of Helicoverpa or corn earworm multiplied.″

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