Sugarcane disaster

Bolsonaro’s new threat to the planet: ethanol sugarcane

The neo-fascist government of Brazil has issued a decree expanding sugarcane crop zoning in the country. That's bad new for the Amazon and the Pantanal wetlands.

Sugarcane crop expansion is bad news for the planet.

The current fascist government onslaught on the planet moves on like a derailed train. The latest crime against the Amazon comes in the form of Decree 10.084, issued on November 5th, which allows the growing of sugarcane crops for ethanol production in the Amazon and the Pantanal wetlands.

The expansion of sugarcane plantations into those areas will have disastrous consequences for animals, indigenous people and everyone else living on this planet on the brink of environmental collapse.

Activists highlight that the re-zoning of sugarcane plantations is linked to the increase  in land-grabbing and fires recorded in 2019. The permission for more sugarcane crops represents more violence, death and destruction of local livelihoods and the biomas affected by them.

It has the potential to reduce rainfall that comes from floating rivers, which are responsible for carrying the humidity from the Amazon Basin to the central-western parts of Brazil, the southeast and the south of the country.

Sugarcane crops harm the environment

Articulação das CPT, an initiative that brings together advocacy groups who work in the Amazon region, has released a note denouncing the dangers involved in the changes being pushed through by the fascist government to please agribusiness lobbyists.

The note says the government waited for the end of Amazon synod to issue the decree that replaces the 2009 zoning plan for sugarcane plantation and which has worked well to curb its impact on the environment.

“Amazon and Pantanal communities must resist and oppose, once again, like they did in 2005, the expansion of sugarcane and ethanol mills. They threaten to expand large estates and spark more violent and agrarian conflicts because they harm those regions, affecting the balance of the local ecosystems and life in two of the most important biomes of Brazil,” the note warns.

The text suggests that the decree boosted fires and land-grabbing this year since it was expected to be issued. There has also been a spike in eviction cases of small-time farmers in 2019, putting further pressure on territories owned by traditional communities and small-time farmers.

Sugarcane crop expansion plans sparked Amazon fires

Even before the decree had been issued, sugarcane producers were encouraging the intensive growing of sugarcane in some parts of the Amazon, such as the states of Acre and Rondônia, offering alleged benefits to small farmers to persuade them to switch from their traditional agricultural ways to monoculture sugarcane crops.

There is plenty of evidence that monoculture sugarcane crops have serious consequences for indigenous peoples and traditional communities, who are affected by the use of pesticides.

Monoculture makes people sick, kills wildlife, uses slave labor, contaminates the soil and waterways, poisons people and animals, affects food safety and marsh cropping, among a list of tragedies.

Sugarcane plantation in the Pantanal wetlands will affect regional tourism and local indigenous areas. It will further push the limits of protected areas, which means more deforestation, violence and conflicts.

The burning of sugarcane also increases the number of forest fires, speeding up climate change and worsening its effects, making it harder for Brazil to meet its carbon reduction goals.

It is not true that ethanol will make transport greener, both in Brazil and in Europe. Ethanol from the Amazon and the Pantanal wetlands is tainted with the blood of indigenous people, small-time farmers and animals, who have their habitats taken from them so a small group of people can make money – and kill us all in the process.

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