Uruguay Swaps Agrochemicals For Wasps

Originally published in Dialogo Chino.

Producers plan to ship non-genetically modified, agrochemical-free soy to China for human consumption.

It’s a Tuesday near the city of Dolores, western Uruguay, where a huge machine known as “Mosquito” moves through a green soy field. Its giant arms, which stretch out like the wings of an insect, were designed to spray chemicals on the crop.

But now they have a different function.

Uruguayan researchers have adapted the machinery to release capsules containing wasp eggs, which on hatching will fight pests and reduce the need to use agrochemicals. They are deployed on a field planted with non-genetically modified soy.

Soy is Uruguay’s main crop. The country has planted one million hectares of genetically modified soy (GMO) and around 11,000 hectares of non-GMO soy. Most of GMO produce is exported to China, where they use it to feed pigs and chickens.

China imports around 90 million tonnes of GMO soy each year and consumes 15 million tonnes of non-GMO soybeans, most of it produced in the country.