The savannah scrubland where Chief João Ponce once hunted deer and wild boar in Brazil has given way to neat rows of soy and corn that a tractor sprays with herbicide. In the next field, silver grain silos shimmer in the hot sun.
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But the partnership with non-native farmers, fueled by an insatiable demand for Brazilian soy in China and other markets, is illegal and has alarmed environmentalists.
Brazil's environmental regulator Ibama this week fined six native communities and a dozen farmers on reservation land for using genetically modified crops (GMO) and engaging in large-scale mechanised agriculture. Both are banned on reservation land.
The unprecedented fines totaling 129 million reais ($33 million) mark an unexpected escalation in a dispute between rival federal agencies, environmentalists, farmers and native advocacy groups over Indian tribes getting into commercial agriculture in Brazil's rapidly expanding farm belt.