SAO PAULO, January 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) announced today that Joel Velasco, the organization's Washington, DC-based Chief Representative for North America, is leaving the position he has held since 2007, to join Amyris, Inc., as Senior Vice-President, External Relations.
"Joel has provided UNICA with wise counsel, effective strategy and solid results. We wish him well at Amyris and will continue cooperating in the future, as we pursue what will often be common objectives," said UNICA CEO Marcos Jank. Velasco will remain an informal advisor to UNICA on matters related to U.S. biofuels policy.
"I have been honored to represent such a transformative industry at a particularly pivotal period. I am confident that our international successes over these last three years will yield dividends not only to UNICA member companies but to the communities they serve for years to come. As I embark on a new challenge with Amyris, I look forward to supporting UNICA's trailblazing work to promote an even more vibrant sugarcane industry in Brazil and beyond," added Velasco.
During his tenure with UNICA, Velasco led the organization's effort to expand the North American biofuel and sugar markets. Thanks largely to his work, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized sugarcane ethanol as an "advanced renewable fuel" for its ability to cut 60% of greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline, and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) determined that sugarcane ethanol meets the state's Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Moreover, his efforts contributed significantly to make UNICA a forceful voice for reducing trade barriers and market distortions for biofuels.
With Velasco's departure, UNICA's activities in Washington will be carried out by Leticia Phillips and Ana Carolina Lessa. The organization's international activities will continue to be overseen by UNICA's Senior Advisor to the President for International Affairs, Geraldine Kutas, based in Brussels.
The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) represents the top producers of sugar and ethanol in the country's South-Central region, especially the state of Sao Paulo, which accounts for about 50% of the country's sugarcane harvest and 60% of total ethanol production. UNICA develops position papers, statistics and specific research in support of Brazil's sugar, ethanol and bioelectricity sectors. In 2008, Brazil produced an estimated 565 million metric tons of sugarcane, which yielded 31.3 million tons of sugar and 25.7 billion liters (6.8 billion gallons) of ethanol.