Being cool is not sustainableWednesday May 14th, 2014
Not enough to be cool to be sustainable
May 14, 2014
* Luis Fernando Guedes Pinto and Mauritius Voivodic
The giant Brazilian agriculture – 275 million hectares, 190 million tons of grain and anchor of GDP and trade balance – is undergoing a period of intense effervescence. As a conservative and powerful group (represented by caucus) orchestra setbacks in the environmental regulatory framework, land and labor, producing forward-looking roll up their sleeves at the frontier of innovation and sustainability, conquering new markets and meeting the most stringent certifications in the world .
As is typical in periods of transition, in the field you see a variety of situations. Coexist in the sector that producers still operate archaic and predatory manner with others seeking the research and innovation necessary conditions for a production geared for the future.
Outside the farms agitation it is also great. Large buying companies commodities agricultural, banks, supermarkets and major international brands operating in the agribusiness sector seek ways for practices harmful to society do not leave marks along their supply chains, which can result in risks to its image and reputation . The challenge increases with the difficulty of adopting effective traceability mechanisms in a universe of thousands of suppliers.
As a product of this process, emerging new arrangements between producers, companies and civil society and innovative public policies, such as the Low Carbon Agriculture Program (ABC), which encourages the low-carbon agriculture. In sharp dispute, a new governance builds gradually to the sector, seeking to reconcile the public interest with the productive sector.
These new alliances direct their efforts to eliminate predatory and degrading practices and lead to agricultural production to a situation of compliance with environmental and labor legislation. A huge effort has been made to promote adaptation to the Forest Code, with the batteries facing the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR), which is only the first step to comply with the new law, published in 2012.
It makes a lot of sense to consider legal compliance and the elimination of predatory practices as the first steps towards sustainability. In Brazil, compliance with environmental laws and labor in the field and throughout the production chain is a large step and represents a great advance for the industry. Especially considering that Brazil has an environmental legal framework and advanced labor for some of the countries with which our agriculture competes. Still, it’s a big mistake think that legal compliance is synonymous with responsible or sustainable agriculture, as some initiatives have been promoted. This confusion of terms is common and the tendency to overvalue a good design can become a shot in the foot.
So, meet the CAR only starts the escalation of sustainable farming, which should be followed by forest restoration plans on the banks of rivers and springs, pasture recovery, shorter cycle of meat production and animal welfare practices. Besides contributing to reduce deforestation, soybean production should prevent erosion, reduce the use of pesticides, provide safe and decent jobs and promote development in its surroundings.
We also have to go beyond legality, as this stride will not be enough for Brazil to comply with its international commitments or walk specifically for the sector’s sustainability. The legal compliance will be insufficient to stop deforestation, to sharply reduce the use of nearly one million tons of pesticides and to guarantee the availability of water for its own production in the countryside to the cities and for energy production. It also does not guarantee the reduction of greenhouse gases from 1.4 to 0.3 Gtons 2013 Gtons 2050, which corresponds to the slice reducing the Brazilian agricultural and is proportional to the overall effort required not to increase the temperature planet above 2 ° C.
Only the law will be little to provide a leap in quality of life and well being for 15 million families and rural workers. And we need more than the law, yet, for a change in the management of agricultural production, which integrates production operations with the economic, environmental and social dimensions, a huge gap in the field.
These goals will only be won if we move forward in a continuous progression towards sustainability, which begins but not to the legality. And for this, we have also references since cases the best and most responsible production are already in operation in the field. To significantly expand its scale lack an intelligent and integrated set of public and private policies capable of providing a favorable environment for innovation and the transition towards sustainability the industry, the country and the planet need.
* Luis Fernando Guedes Pinto is an agricultural engineer, PhD in Agronomy and certification manager of the Institute of Management and Forest Certification and Agricultural – Imaflora
Mauritius is Voivodic forester, Master in Environmental Science and executive secretary of Imaflora
This article was originally published in the Sustainable Planet