photo by So Ka So Ka via flickr
File this one in the you can't beat Mother Nature category. Just as critics beat up Brazil's biofuels industry a new threat appears. Telchin licus, known to us non-entomologists as the Giant Cane Borer is common in the northeast of Brazil and appeared around Sao Paolo last July. As quoted by Reuters, Enrico De Beni Arrigoni technological research coordinator as the Sugar Cane Technology Center describes the situation: "As it is a new plague in the center-south, combative methods have not yet been developed. Chemical treatments have not shown any positive results." If not removed from the fields the insect larvae can significantly reduce crop yields as in bores through the sugar cane.
The Sao Paolo area accounts for 60% of Brazil's sugar cane crop. Four million hectares are planted in the state, which have crop yields of 340-350 million tonnes. The CTC reports that crop losses could be as high as $245 million per year in the Sao Paolo region alone.