Soy nexus in South America
Along with the rapid expansion of the ethanol production, largely manufactured from sugar cane, South America is also beginning to play a key role as producer of biodisel. The main feedstock is soya and, for the soya farmers and the mutilnational grain companies, who were facing problems of overproduction, the new market outlet is a godsend. It gives them the perfect pretext for continuing their take-over of the continent.
We have 80 million hectares of land in the Amazon that is going to turn us into the Saudi Arabia of biodiesel”, said Expedito Parente, a Brazilian chemical engineer who took out the ﬁrst patent for the manufacture of biodiesel on an industrial scale. Brazil’s President Lula is similarly enthusiastic. “In the next 10–15 years, we will see Brazil become the leading producer of biodiesel”, he said recently. “Few countries can compete with Brazil, because God gave us sun, land and hard-working people.”
Apart from actively promoting ethanol and biodiesel within Brazil, Lula has been seeking out investment possibilities in neighbouring countries. After a visit to Asunción in May 2007, Lula commented enthusiastically: “I’m leaving Paraguay with great optimism because the country’s potential in ethanol and biodiesel is extraordinary.” Not to be
outdone, President Nicanor Duarte, of Paraguay, added: “If Brazil is to become the Saudi Arabia of biofuels, why can’t Paraguay become the Kuwait of the 21st century?” Lula’s desire to turn Brazil into a regional agro-energy power has the full support of Washington, which is keen to reduce South America’s dependence on oil and thus to weaken the political inﬂuence of the ﬁercely anti-American Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, who has been using his petrodollars to strengthen his inﬂuence in the region.