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Brazil: greater sugarcane yield through gene technology

(29 May 2010) In the next years, genetically modified (GM) sugarcane is expected to enter the Brazilian market and to deliver a sugar content that has been increased by 30 to 40 per cent. Bayer CropScience and the Brazilian research institution CTC have agreed upon "comprehensive cooperation" towards this goal.

The aim of the cooperation between the agro-firm, based in Germany, with the leading Brazilian research institute for sugarcane, CTC (Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira), is the development of new varieties with significantly enhanced sugar content.

Sugarcane is the plant from which the highest exploitation of bio-fuel may be realised. In order to compete with fossil fuels on the world market, the Brazilian government intends to increase sugarcane farming further in the next years and to make the production of bio-ethanol more effective.

Today, Brazil already is the site of almost one half of sugarcane production world-wide. Commercially available fuels in the country contain a bio-ethanol admixture of between 20 and 25 per cent.

With regard to the cooperation, the CTC institute can provide a great deal of experience in the breeding and processing of sugarcane, while Bayer CropScience has announced that the company primarily will provide access to "gene technologies". The common goal is the development of new varieties with higher sugar content. According to press information from Bayer CropScience, early research results indicate a rise of 30 to 40 per cent. Approval applications for the first commercial products are expected as early as 2015.

CTC executive director Nelson Boeta states, "We predict a great increase in yield through the combination of our sugarcane varieties with the technology from Bayer. Sugarcane is the most competitively capable plant to date with regard to winning renewable energy and this cooperation with Bayer will continue to increase competitive capacity."

Already in summer 2009, BASF agreed upon similar cooperation with the CTC institute.


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