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Published September 23, 2011, 08:45 AM

Soybean rust cost Brazilians growers billions

SAO PAULO — Media reports say that over the past several years Asian soybean rust has cost growers nearly $5 billion in losses in Mato Grosso, Brazil's biggest soybean-producing state.

SAO PAULO — Media reports say that over the past several years Asian soybean rust has cost growers nearly $5 billion in losses in Mato Grosso, Brazil's biggest soybean-producing state.

The G1 news website says Thursday that data from the Mato Grosso agricultural department show local producers have chalked up losses of 9 billion reals (US$4.7 billion) since 2004 when the disease was first detected in the state.

Asian soybean rust is a fungus that feeds on sugar in the plant's leaves, reducing yield and the bean's protein content.

Calls to the state's agricultural department to confirm the report went unanswered.

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