Bolivia allows planting of GM soya to make biodiesel

Bolivia has authorised farmers to plant a GM soyabean as part of a project to produce biodiesel, Spanish news agency EFE reported on 20 March.

The authorisation calls for planting 250,000ha with GM soya to be used exclusively to make biodiesel and includes roughly US$2bn in public funds for the necessary infrastructure and machinery, according to Hydrocarbons Minister Luis Alberto Sanchez.

EFE wrote that Bolivian Institute of Foreign Trade (IBCE) data showed Bolivia spent around US$900M on imports of conventional diesel fuel.

IBCE director Gary Rodriguez said producing its own biodiesel would reduce Bolivia's need to import conventional diesel.

Planting the drought-resistant HB4 strain of GM soya could boost yields for growers by 20-30% from the current average of 2,500kg/ha, according to Fidel Flores, the representative in Cuatro CaƱadas, Santa Cruz, of the National Association of Oilseed and Wheat Producers (Anapo).

Associations representing small and large producers in Santa Cruz had jointly declared an agricultural emergency in the region, pointing to damage affecting more than a third of the soya crop planting.

Destruction due to drought, floods and other causes has already generated more than US$168M in losses, the associations said.