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Arthur Gomes

Executive Director, CropLife, Brazil


 


Describe CropLife.  

On October 2019, CropLife Brasil has put together on a single platform the experience and the history of associations that for decades led discussions on innovation in agriculture. 

CropLife Brasil is the result of the recognition that agricultural systems require much more than the benefits of each technology isolated, acting on behalf of Biological Products, Crop Protection Products, Biotechnology, Germplasm and Digital Agriculture.


Could you tell us how important it is agriculture to the Brazilian economy? In that matter, how relevant is it to include new technologies in the market?


According to the National Confederation of Agriculture, agricultural GDP grew 15.1% in 2023, when compared to 2022. The strong growth of the sector boosted Brazilian GDP, which grew 2.9% in 2023. Without the growth in agricultural activity, Brazil's GDP would only grow 1.6%, which means that agriculture was responsible for 44.2% of growth of national GDP in the year. 

In Brazil, in the last 40 years, the grains' production raised 5 times while the land use raised less than 2 times, which means high productivity based on the adoption of technologies and innovation (crop protection products, biotechnology, etc.)


What are the main focuses of those new technologies? Is sustainability a relevant part of these investments? You participated with CropLife in the COP28, what were the main conclusions you and the company took from the event? 


Modern agriculture, using new technologies, plays an important role to increase climate resilience and to mitigate GHG. 

One of the COP28 decisions recommends countries to create and improve adaptation plans aimed at agriculture. Improving adaptation plans will be increasingly important, and at CropLife Brasil we strongly support innovation as the basis of any model that aims to stimulate adaptation and mitigation in agriculture. 

As food systems were central among COP28 debates, it is time to discuss regenerative agriculture as a solution. Without fertile and healthy soils, there is no agricultural system that is efficient in the long term. And regenerative agriculture, as CropLife Brasil believes, is only possible with innovation and technologies.


How is biotechnology and genetically modified fruits and vegetables making an impact in the way that the world has access to food? In that sense, how important is food security?


Due to high productivity, in the last 25 years, GM seeds were responsible for an additional production volume of 112.3 million tons of grains, of which 17.5 million tons were soybeans and 93.5 million tons of corn. Considering the productivity differential between systems that adopt biotechnology and those that do not use it, the preservation of area and biodiversity is revealed in the smaller extension of planted area to obtain the production rates achieved. In other words, in order to maintain the level of production observed in areas that adopt GM varieties, we would have to plant an additional 21.4 million hectares in the country between 1998 and 2022/23.

It is a crucial technology to keep high productivity rates in order to address climate change challenges.


Could you tell us about the role that CropLife has played in the work against the illegal market of toxic chemicals? 

Counterfeit and illegal pesticides are a growing problem in the agriculture sector, posing a serious risk to farmers, the environment, and economies. These illegal products also have the potential to stall and undermine innovations from the plant science industry. 

In CropLife Brasil we have, among other actions, been leading an important communication campaign, known as “Agricultor de Valor” (or ‘‘Valuable Farmer’’), aimed at combating the illegal use of products in Brazilian agriculture by disseminating materials to raise awareness among farmers about the risks of using illegal inputs in crops and also encourage the use of the reporting channel. 

Also, CropLife Brasil has recently launched a course jointly with USP (University of São Paulo) to propagate knowledge on how to investigate and combat illegal practices on agriculture, reaching authorities from Brazil and other Latin American countries.


Finally, what are your projections for the future of the food industry? Especially in Latin American countries that have important agricultural markets? 


Agricultural production across Latin America has demonstrated great resilience at times of global challenges such as Covid-19 and Ukraine War. 

Also, food systems are being increasingly recognized as a main actor on the climate change agenda. It is not possible to achieve food security, environmental sustainability, and high nutritional quality without inviting agricultural production to the discussions. 

Therefore, it is only viable through an international food trade with no unjustified barriers – it is essential for CropLife Brasil associates to have businesses based on science and free markets.


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