Around the Region

Norway blunt with Brazil on forest-protection concerns

Norway expressed concern this month that Brazil’s forest-protection efforts “might be in retreat,” then announced its 2017 donations to a Brazilian-run forest conservation fund would not exceed US$35 million—barely over a third of its average $110 million in annual contributions. Since 2008 Norway has accounted for $1.1 billion of the $1.135 billion in contributions to the Amazon Fund, which was created to reduce Brazilian Amazon deforestation, boost forest conservation, reforest degraded areas and promote sustainable development. Germany has donated $28 million. Norway’s comments came in an unusually frank letter Norwegian Climate and Environment Minister Vidar Helgesen sent June 19 to Brazilian Environment Minister José Sarney Filho. The letter was delivered three days before the start of a two-day state visit...

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Correa’s last-minute GMO import measure draws fire

Ecuadorians in 2008 voted in a national referendum to approve a new Constitution whose provisions include a prohibition on genetically modified seeds and crops. On June 1, the country’s National Assembly, at the urging of then-President Rafael Correa, nevertheless took a step toward transgenic agriculture by authorizing imports of so-called genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for research purposes. Though the new constitution was drafted with Correa’s full support, he later singled out the transgenics ban for criticism. By 2012, the controversial leader was extolling gene-modified seeds, saying they could “quadruple our production and end the misery of the most depressed sectors.” He called for a “great national debate” to determine scientifically whether GMOs are safe and whether to “make flexible” the constitutional ban...

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Talks for third “mega” pulp mill advancing in Uruguay

The administration of Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez and the Finnish pulp company UPM are negotiating an agreement that would allow construction of Uruguay’s third large-scale plant for processing plantation-grown trees into pulp for export, according to UPM. As was the case for the first and second of the large pulp mills built in Uruguay in recent years, a key question at issue is the sheer scale and impact of pulp processing in the country and the enormous, land-gobbling plantation forestry operations required to support it. The two plants, a UPM-owned mill operating in the Uruguay River town of Fray Bentos and a Chilean and Spanish-owned plant in the River Plate community of Conchillas, can produce up to 1.3 million tons...

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