Brazil proposes restricting land for sugarcane

The Brazilian government announced on Sept. 17 a proposed law that will restrict the lands permissible for sugarcane farming and processing.

If passed, the bill sent to the National Congress by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will prohibit the construction or expansion of sugarcane farms and production plants in any area of native vegetation, or in the Amazon, Pantanal (Brazilian Wetlands) or Upper Paraguay River Basin regions. Coupled with the areas unsuitable for sugarcane farming, the bill would effectively make 92.5% of Brazil’s national territory off-limits for sugarcane farming and processing.
This is good news for both the local and the global environment (not to mention existing sugarcane growers in Brazil). While the massive deforestation of the Amazon that contributes the lion's share of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions isn't performed by cane-growers, it is less easy to make the case that growing cane cultivation isn't an indirect cause (by displacing soy, which in turn displaces ranching and lower-value crops - the sorts of things people do cut/burn down the forest to grow).

The research underpinning the proposed law proudly incorporated a relative of the triple bottom line:
ZAE Cana is the largest crop survey in Brazil’s history and the first ever to incorporate economic and social considerations into its proposed model for the sustainable development of the industry.
Having lived in Brazil, I can say that there is an impressively high public and political awareness of environmental issues. Many Brazilians are quite proud of being a flex-fuel nation with predominantly renewable power generation (mostly hydro). And of course you get things like this.

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