Magazine article Newsweek International

Cooking Up A Carrot

Magazine article Newsweek International

Cooking Up A Carrot

Article excerpt

Making a decent life in the hottest regions of the world has always been a colossal headache. To Aristotle nothing of use could be coaxed from the soils of the "torrid latitudes," and whenever Europeans tried, their colonies tended to "sizzle and die," writes environmental historian Alfred W. Crosby. But Brazilians have long thought otherwise.

Thanks to some stubborn scientists, agronomists and farmers, Brazil is turning some of the most inhospitable regions of the tropics into a cornucopia.

Much of the credit goes to the government-run agricultural-research company, a one-stop invention shop known by its Portuguese acronym, Embrapa. Thirty years old this past April, Embrapa has a string of creations to its name: a low-calorie pork (40 percent less cholesterol), multicolored ornamental sunflowers, colored cotton and an "electronic tongue" (more efficient than the human palate) for tasting wine and other beverages. But Embrapa's boldest work to date has been to take food crops that flourish only in the temperate regions of the planet--wheat, soybeans, garden vegetables and pasture grass--and adapt them to the tropics.

The agency's previous attempt was a huge success. In the 1980s Embrapa scientists took Asian and American soybean varieties and, through selective breeding and gene splicing, made them flourish in Brazil's sun-baked western prairie. Now Brazil is the world's second largest soy producer, after the United States. The agency's most recent crop, on the other hand--the handsome Alvorada carrot--is a cautionary tale of scientific hubris. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.