That's why the Dilma Rousseff, Brazilian Minister of Mines and Energy made a huge statement on Brazil's environmental responsibility when producing ethanol. Ms. Rousseff affirmed that no Amazon forests are being cut to plant sugarcane because 91 percent of sugarcane production is cultivated 2100km (1400 miles) south from the river. She also said that her government is planning a regulation of sugarcane plantations expansion, which will include a product certification to clear up any doubts on its origin.
Being from the Workers' Party, the one that rules Brazil, the minister affirmed that they couldn't trace workers exploitation on plantations, since some accusations of bad work conditions (and slavery) were slipped to the press.
Nevertheless, Brazil is investing 1 billion Reais (about half a billion dollars) in ethanol research. Current ethanol exports are 3,4 billion liters for 2006 and previsions state a whopping 8 billion liters for 2010. Brazil is also exhaustively collaborating with other Latin American countries to develop a biofuel industry.