Article from NotiSur, April 11
Environmentalists, on the other side are also worried about the risks that GMO crops pose to the environment and lasting viability of agriculture in the Southern Cone. The risks of monoculture have long been apparent, from susceptibility to a single pest to being over-reliant on specific weather conditions, yet they appear to present little deterrence. Recent storms and floods in the Southern Cone could end up costing Argentina 3 million tons of soybeans, which amounts to approximately 5% of the entire annual harvest. Changes in soil condition over time may also serve to turn this “cause for celebration” into short-term boom, leaving state dependent on soybeans with poor soil and unsupportable social welfare programs. And while non-native crops, such as soybeans, are not at risk in South America to lose genetic diversity, the persistent loss of forest puts many native species – both flora and fauna – at great risk. Lastly, the huge tracks of land required for a high profit margin on soybeans have been forcing small land holders into destitution and homelessness. If this consolidation of arable land continues, we may the increase in the political influence of such organizations such as the MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Terra [Landless Worker’s Movement]) in Brazil.
While the windfalls from recent soybean harvests have no doubt been beneficial to many in their respective societies, the worries of economists and environmentalists alike should be cause for further analyses of the short-term benefits and long-term risks of such agricultural policies. -Joe Leestma