Drought and Food Security in Brazil

      January 28-29, 2015 saw the third annual summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in San José, Costa Rica.  The summit was attended by 21 heads of state from across the region.  Included in its plan of action was a resolution to implement a plan submitted to CELAC by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which set a goal of eliminating hunger in the region by 2025.  The threat to regional food security posed by climate change was one of four key strategic points identified in the plan. 

 

      In the midst of the summit, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva detailed the effects of climate change on food security in his home nation of Brazil.  In an interview with BBC Brasil, Graziano da Silva discussed how food prices have been driven up by shortages of staple crops like wheat and sugarcane.  The cause is an historic drought which has lingered over south-central Brazil since 2013, leading to a rainfall deficit of nearly one meter (39 inches).  The Director-General identified increased efforts to develop and implement drought-resistant crop technologies as one key to mitigating the effects of future droughts.  He cited ongoing research on this subject by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Brazilian Corporation of Agricultural Research (Embrapa).

 

      The Global Innovation Commons has compiled a list of public domain technologies useful in drought-resistant crop development.  190 of these technologies are public domain in Brazil.  View the entire GIC set on Drought Resistant Technology by country here:  http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/discover/subcategory/drought-resistant-technology

 

      Additional opportunities for public domain research exist in the patent portfolios of major multinational agriculture firms.  For example, Monsanto holds over 2,300 patents on varieties of drought-resistant seed and the expression of drought resistance genes; however, none of these patents have legal protection in the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean (with the exception of French Guiana).  These patents cover drought-resistant seed and plants or gene expression for many of the region’s important crops, including corn, wheat, rice, potatoes, sugarcane, soybeans, canola, and cotton.

 

Sources:

Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. "Plan de Acción de la CELAC 2015." 29 Jan. 2015. http://www.celac2015.go.cr/plan-de-accion-de-la-celac-2015/

 

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “FAO presents plan for eradicating hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean.” 27 Jan. 2015. http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/275950/icode/

 

Fellet, João. “Falta d'água ameaça segurança alimentar no Brasil, diz chefe da FAO.” BBC Brasil. 2 Feb. 2015. http://www.bbc.co.uk/portuguese/noticias/2015/02/150201_entrevista_graziano_jf

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