(Bloomberg) -- It’s the fungus that just won’t die.
Over almost two decades, a plant disease known as Asian rust has infiltrated soybean fields across Brazil -- the world’s biggest exporter of the versatile oilseed used in countless consumer products. The pathogen has become so resistant to chemicals meant to kill it that many farmers spray several times during their growing seasons, and still endure output losses.
Brazil has become the world’s largest market for fungicides as growers have stepped up the fight against Asian rust and other crop diseases. They spent $3.2 billion last year, three times what they did a decade earlier. But a state-run research institute found the chemicals were ineffective almost half the time, according to Rabobank, so farmers are spraying more. The pathogens have adapted to become more resistant, confounding growers and scientists.