Around the Region

Brazil’s Conama has rescinded coastal sand-berm protections

The National Environmental Council (Conama), Brazil’s main environmental policy-making body, has revoked a regulation that protects coastal sand-berm formations seen by many experts as crucial to the health of beaches and mangrove stands. Conama on Sept. 28 eliminated a 2002 resolution that prohibited the destruction of vegetation and development of any kind on coastal “restingas,” or natural sand berms, within 300 meters (984 feet) of beaches and mangroves. The 2002 resolution (No. 303/2002) designated such berm zones as “permanent protection areas” (APPs). These sandy ridges, undergirded by the root systems of the dwarf trees, shrubs, grasses and other plants that grow on them, are valued in large part for the stabilization they provide the beaches and mangrove stands they border. For instance, they prevent rainwater runoff from clogging mangroves with sand and, in the process, damaging habitat that effectively serves as a nursery for a wide variety of...

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Argentina approves gene-altered wheat—on condition Brazil buys it

Argentina’s announcement this month that it will become the first country in the world to allow commercial cultivation of genetically modified wheat drew criticism not only from environmental advocates, but also from farm-sector business associations. On Oct. 7, the Argentine government approved commercial planting of a genetically modified form of wheat known as HB4. Developed by the Argentine company Bioceres Crop Solutions in a joint venture with the French company Florimond Desprez, HB4 is designed to tolerate glufosinate, a broad-spectrum herbicide. Because it was bioengineered to contain a sunflower gene that confers drought resistance, the gene-altered wheat also can be grown in dry conditions, experts say. Authorities said the approval, however, will not take effect unless imports of HB4 wheat are authorized by Brazil, which accounted for 45% of Argentina’s 11.3 million metric tons in 2019 wheat-export sales. In all, the country’s wheat exports last year...

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Pushback in Costa Rica on new rules for animal parks

Costa Rica has begun enforcing measures aimed at improving protection of animals held in zoos and private parks, in part by regulating how people may interact with such wildlife. But the new rules have prompted pushback from some private wildlife-park owners who say the changes threaten the continued presence of popular species of exotic animals in the country. In September, Costa Rica’s National System of Conservation Areas (Sinac) ordered Ponderosa Park, a safari-themed zoo in the country’s northern province of Guanacaste, to prohibit visitors from feeding animals and taking selfies with them. Sinac also required the zoo to prevent reproduction of exotic animals such as giraffes. In taking the action, the agency cited recently implemented legislation designed to protect the wellbeing of wild animals—in part by preventing their contact with humans in private zoos. Businesses found in violation face fines or temporary closure, authorities say. The enforcement...

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