Having achieved independence from foreign oil, Brazil is now exploring independence from foreign condoms. The world's single largest condom customer, the government of Brazil, is switching to home-grown. Brazil distributes the millions of condoms freely in an effort to fight HIV transmission. They have now found a way to produce them domestically in large quantities using rubber from rainforest trees, in a program that will serve to protect large parts of the rainforest from destruction due to other forms of exploitation and provide a living to many people living near the rubber trees.
The Brazilian government’s embrace of a simple and effective technology to combat the spread of AIDS is only possible because of its willingness to ignore the advice of the Catholic Church, which still retains a crushing influence in other parts of South America, relentlessly preaching the evils of contraception (or of anything that might be used as a contraceptive), thereby assisting the spread of poverty and disease. The government of Brazil can afford to take an independent approach without unduly offending its population, who are becoming less Catholic every year.