Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ranchers using Agent Orange to deforest the Amazon

180 hectares (450 acres) of rainforest in the Brazilian Amazon were defoliated using a potent mix of herbicides dropped by airplane, reports IBAMA, Brazil's environmental law enforcement agency.

The affected area, which is south of the city of Canutama and near the Mapinguari Jacare├║ba / Katawixi indigenous reservation in Rond├┤nia, was first detected by Brazil's deforestation monitoring system. A subsequent helicopter overflight last month by IBAMA revealed thousands of trees largely stripped of their vegetation. Authorities later found nearly four tons of chemicals — 2,4 - D AMINE 72, U46BR, Garlon 480, and mineral oil — along trans-Amazon highway 174. The herbicides would have been enough to defoliate roughly 3,000 ha (7,500 acres) of forest, which would then be cleared for cattle ranching or agriculture.

IBAMA says use of chemical defoliants is a relatively new phenomenon in the region, but represents a troubling development, according to Cicero Furtado, coordinator of the investigation.


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