Photograph by Yann Arthus-Bertrand/Altitude
Brazil produced almost 720 million metric tons of sugar cane in 2010, more than 2 1/2 times that of the second-largest producer, India. About 55 percent of it went into ethanol production, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
U.S. ethanol subsidies and tariffs lapsed at the end of 2011, providing Brazil with long-sought access to the American market. Still, as Raymond Colitt and Stephan Nielsen write in this Special Report, poor growing conditions, high domestic demand and lack of investment make this a time of regrouping, not expansion. "The government is to blame for the shortage of ethanol," Carneiro Leao, the head of the National Sugar Cane Commission at the agricultural confederation CNA, said. "Producers are indebted, taxes are exorbitant and the red tape is stifling."
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