South American countries struggle to carve a niche out for themselves in the global market. Lands tended for generations by independent farmers in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia, are now being swallowed up by corporations to create massive soybean monocultures. In particular, half of Argentina’s cropland is now devoted to soy, and the crop makes up one third of the countries exports. Soy is mostly exported to the US and China.
Not only are existing farmlands being sacrificed for soy production but South American forests and savannahs are as well. Due to increasingly relaxed regulations, a majority of these crops are genetically modified and inundated with environmentally damaging herbicides and insecticides. Soybeans are a relatively low maintenance crop. This puts farm workers out of jobs. These monocultures use so much land and displace food production for dietary staples of the local populations. As poverty and hunger increase environmental stability and diversity decrease. The rich get richer. Europe gets their soybeans.
Title: Feedlot Meat Has Spurred a Soy Boom That Has a Devastating Environmental and Human Cost
Publication: AlterNet, 3/17/11
Author: Jill Richardson
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips, Sonoma State University
Student Researcher: Alex Miller, Sonoma State University