Document Detail

Expansion of sugarcane ethanol production in Brazil: environmental and social challenges.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  18536250     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Several geopolitical factors, aggravated by worries of global warming, have been fueling the search for and production of renewable energy worldwide for the past few years. Such demand for renewable energy is likely to benefit the sugarcane ethanol industry in Brazil, not only because sugarcane ethanol has a positive energetic balance and relatively low production costs, but also because Brazilian ethanol has been successfully produced and used as biofuel in the country since the 1970s. However, environmental and social impacts associated with ethanol production in Brazil can become important obstacles to sustainable biofuel production worldwide. Atmospheric pollution from burning of sugarcane for harvesting, degradation of soils and aquatic systems, and the exploitation of cane cutters are among the issues that deserve immediate attention from the Brazilian government and international societies. The expansion of sugarcane crops to the areas presently cultivated for soybeans also represent an environmental threat, because it may increase deforestation pressure from soybean crops in the Amazon region. In this paper, we discuss environmental and social issues linked to the expansion of sugarcane in Brazil for ethanol production, and we provide recommendations to help policy makers and the Brazilian government establish new initiatives to produce a code for ethanol production that is environmentally sustainable and economically fair. Recommendations include proper planning and environmental risk assessments for the expansion of sugarcane to new regions such as Central Brazil, improvement of land use practices to reduce soil erosion and nitrogen pollution, proper protection of streams and riparian ecosystems, banning of sugarcane burning practices, and fair working conditions for sugarcane cutters. We also support the creation of a more constructive approach for international stakeholders and trade organizations to promote sustainable development for biofuel production in developing countries such as Brazil. Finally, we support the inclusion of environmental values in the price of biofuels in order to discourage excessive replacement of natural ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, and pasture by bioenergy crops.
Luiz A Martinelli; Solange Filoso
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Ecological applications : a publication of the Ecological Society of America     Volume:  18     ISSN:  1051-0761     ISO Abbreviation:  Ecol Appl     Publication Date:  2008 Jun 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2008-06-09     Completed Date:  2008-09-02     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  9889808     Medline TA:  Ecol Appl     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  885-98     Citation Subset:  IM    
CENA-USP, Av. Centenário 303, 13416-000, Piracicaba-SP, Brazil.
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MeSH Terms
Agriculture / economics,  ethics,  trends*
Energy-Generating Resources
Environmental Pollution* / adverse effects
Lung Diseases / etiology
Nitrogen / analysis
Water Pollutants / analysis
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Water Pollutants; 64-17-5/Ethanol; 7727-37-9/Nitrogen

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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