Skip to content

How One Country Sought to Combat the Harm of Burning Sugar Cane

Join ProPublica as we discuss the controversial practice of cane burning in Florida and why Brazil, the world’s largest producer of sugar cane, has mostly stopped the burns.

Supported by McKinsey & Company. Learn more about sponsorships.

In partnership with The Palm Beach Post and WLRN.

For about six months each year, farmers in Florida’s heartland burn sugar crops to rid the plants of their outer leaves, sending smoke and ash into the patchwork of largely Black and Hispanic communities known as the Glades. Some residents there have long complained that the smoke harms their health and have pressed the sugar industry and state regulators to end the practice.

But Florida’s largest sugar companies maintain that cane burns are safe and heavily regulated, and that they can’t be stopped without economic harm. Brazil, however, has successfully transitioned away from the controversial practice in many parts of the country, and experts there say the U.S. should follow Brazil’s lead.

Join ProPublica video journalist Nadia Sussman and Seattle Times reporter Lulu Ramadan for a discussion with experts from Brazil and Florida about alternative approaches to harvesting and what those might mean for the Glades.

Additional speaker details will be added as the event date approaches.

  • Dr. Christopher Holmes, Associate professor of meteorology at Florida State University
  • Antonio L L Queiroz, technical adviser in the presidency of State of São Paulo environmental agency (CETESTB)
  • Dr. Helena Ribeiro, professor of environmental health at University of São Paulo School of Public Health
  • Dr. Raffaella Rossetto, scientific researcher at Agronomic Institute of Campinas

Supported by McKinsey & Company. Learn more about sponsorships.

This event has ended.