GM maize ashes for his way

Edição XI | 03 - Mai . 2007

Silmar Teichert Peske - silmar@seednews.inf.br

            Maize is an important component of 600 food products, being that its major role is as a key component of animal feedstuffs, mainly for the poultry and swine industries. Brazil's use of the maize produce destines 40% to the elaboration of poultry feeds and 25% to the swine industry. In average, 65% of the feedstuffs have maize as its major component.

           

              Dr. Silmar Peske / Dr. Ivo Marcos Carraro


            For poultry, of the 1.7kg of feedstuff needed to produce 1kg of poultry meat, maize is responsible for over 1kg of the former. To the Brazilian agribusiness sector, maize is a strategic commodity that strengthens the agriculture sector. The area sown with maize in Brazil is of about 12 million ha of which, in excess of 9 million are sown with hybrids (simple, double or triple), yielding a produce of some 45 million tons, which is almost entirely consumed by the local market.
           Whereas the area sown with the crop shows a trend to remain constant and eventually downsize, demand for maize is on the rise due to the rising consumption on poultry and  swine meat levels, eggs and alcohol, the latter for fuel purposes, like in the US. To increase production without a correspondent expansion of the land cropped with maize, growers need to increase their yields to meet the demand. To achieve this purpose some tools are available such as hybrids with superior heterosis (simple hybrids), as well as agronomic practices that ensure the appropriate development of the crop.
             The use of hybrids to increase productivity is a resource known for quire some time; meanwhile, other practices such as weed and disease control, together with irrigation and adequate crop nutrition are factors involved in the efficiency of results and agriculture as a sustainable resource. Adequate weed control can be achieved through simple and effective methods and will surely help farmers to increase its output, without having to expand the cropping area. Scientific findings have made it possible with technologies that contribute to a better quality of life be incorporated to maize cropping, granting growers and consumers the benefits of such findings.
            Other innovations for the crop came by the creation of genotypes tolerant to the armyworm larvae, which cause high loss to maize crops due to the difficulty of its control. The losses caused by insect pests to maize crops in Brazil have been estimated in  approximately R$ 2 billion per year and among the main species responsible for them are the armyworm larvae (Spodoptera frugiperda), lesser cornstalk borer (Elasmopalpus lignosellus), corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea), Dark Sword-grass (Agrotis ipsilon) and the sugarcane borer (Diatraea saccharalis).



               

               Different kinds of indian maize


             To deal with all these insect pests, seed treatment as well as the aerial spraying of insecticides are employed, at an annual cost of approximately US$ 23 million. In response to these facts, pest control through the products of biotechnology certainly are beneficial to man and its environment, and GM has arrived in due time. Transgenic maize has been in the market for some years now, and in the US it has expanded its area significantly, and figure for the 2006 harvest season indicate it has grown by 17%.
             Argentina, another pioneer country to rely on transgenic crops, already has 70% of the total area grown to maize sown with transgenic cultivars.

            

           On a global scale, more than 25 million ha are sown with GM maize and it is estimated that the benefits to farmers  growing GM maize for the  period from 1996 to 2005 were in  excess of US$ 3.25 billion, resulting from the increase in productivity and a concomitant reduction in production costs. The impact on cost reduction was transferred to the end products, poultry and swine meat and eggs, making their prices more accessible to consumers. Scientific research has shown also that genotypes that are managed to achieve their potential yield are more tolerant to water stress, being that plants possess a higher growth rate that enables them to tolerate better drought periods with a better rate of success.
             Success to growers has come through the realization that the crop's revenue is linked to the achievement of the maximum potential yield, situation in which the profit margin attains the highest values.
 
             “Success come ion that the crop's revenue is linked to the achievement of the maximum potential inpotential yield, situation in which the profit margin attains the highest values.”
 
           It is worth noting that seed production of hybrid maize has a 70-year old background that could eventually be adopted for the production of GM maize seed, should it be necessary. Brazil crops more than 100,000ha to produce maize seed under controlled pollination, to check contamination and maturation synchrony between male and female gametes. Maize originated in Central America and more than 30,000 entries have been collected and stored at the International Center for Wheat and Maize Breeding (CIMMYT), in Mexico.
             Biotechnological developments have provided man with alternatives for a better life and Brazil, with a host of qualified researchers in this area, should not remain apart from its benefits.

 

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