Brazil Opens the Door to Its Bio Treasures

    In a move to take advantage of Brazil’s enormous biodiversity, the Brazilian Ministry of Environment has approved the first contract with a private company for the use of plants, animals, minerals and micro-organisms in a determined region. The region is the Pantanal and the idea is to begin making perfumes from plants there.

    The Brazilian pantanal is South America’s largest flood plain. It is located in the Central West region and with an area of approximately 140,000 square kilometers, covers large parts of the states of Mato Grosso do Sul and Mato Grosso.


    Quest Internacional of Brazil Ltd. has begun collecting material at the Campo Formoso Farm in Aquidauana, state of Mato Grosso do Sul. The deal is that Quest will pay the landowner a 5% royalty on sales of any perfume made from local plants collected between now and November 2005. Quest will also be sending weekly reports to the ministry.


    Eduardo Velez, who heads the Council on Genetic Property Management at the ministry, says the plan is to combat the irregular use of natural resources through government control.


    “Companies will have to comply with legislation and share the benefits and profits that come from biodiversity use. This is part of the fight against biopiracy.


    “We are stimulating the correct use of biodiversity so that the scientific community and the private sector can exploit this area with responsibility,” he said.


    Another offensive in this area by the government, reports Velez, is a bill that is on the way to Congress which will improve legislation on natural resources use.


    “We need clear rules,” he said.


    At the moment, the Ministry of Environment is examining 12 proposals for commercial exploitation of conservation areas under control of the Environmental Protection Institute (Ibama).


    Such projects will automatically pay royalties into the National Enviromental Fund which will use the monies to expand its conservation programs.


    Fish from Amazon and Pantanal


    Various native fish species from the Amazon and the Pantanal flood plains are on the list of the Brazilian Export Promotion Agency (Apex-Brazil), linked to the Ministry of Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade.


    Through an agreement signed May 26 between the Apex-Brazil and the Special Secretariat of Aquiculture and Fishing, the Brazilian government will invest over US$ 634,000 in publicity, exportation, and the opening of new markets for these fish.


    The project aims to encourage small producers to enter the export market. Besides traditional consumer markets such as the United States, France, Spain, and Italy, the partnership intends to expand commercial relations with promising markets such as the Middle East, Japan, and China, by promoting rounds of business and participating in international fairs.


    According to the president of Apex-Brazil, Juan Quiróz, the goal is to raise the volume of exports from the 33 thousand tons registered in 2003 to 50 thousand tons by the end of 2005.


    “Nowadays Brazil possesses two big trademarks, Amazônia and the Pantanal. We shall energize these brands and stimulate demand for the country’s native fish,” Quiróz explained, underscoring that the growth in exports will involve around 70 companies and will make it possible to generate over 3,500 direct jobs in the sector.


    The Secretary of Aquiculture and Fishing, José Fritsch, is optimistic about the parnership with Apex-Brazil, since Brazilian fish already conform to a high standard of quality and trackability, prerequisites for acceptance of the product on the most stringent markets.


    “Our native fish are of excellent quality, and those derived from aquiculture are bred without chemical additives or antibiotics.”


    In 2003, Brazil exported US$ 419 million worth of fish and seafood, predominately shrimp, lobster, and tuna.


    With the project, the government wants to push the exportation of cultivated native freshwater fish, in addition to the species caught at sea.


    “Brazilian organic fish have all they need to conquer the world,” Fritsch affirmed, observing that world demand for organic products has grown annually on the order of 12%.


    Agência Brasil
    Translator: Allen Bennett

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