Crumb Trail
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Monday, September 01, 2003

This BioMedNet report is an example of the consequences of shifting agricultural production to developing countries.

One of the world's most alarming environmental controversies appears to be worsening. Rates of forest destruction in Brazilian Amazonia exceeded the previous year's rate by about 40%. In total, 6.4 million acres were felled and burned, an area nearly the size of Belgium.


Soybeans are big business in Brazil, which looks set to overtake the US as the world's largest soybean producer. The area of land under soybeans has grown sharply, increasing from 25 million acres in 1990 to over 45 million acres today. Most soybean production is concentrated along the southern margin of the Amazon, in drier woodlands and savannas, but each year the soybean farmers are encroaching further into the rainforest.


Much of Brazil's burgeoning soybean crop is exported to Europe, where it is used as feed for cattle and pigs. These exports, totaling millions of tons annually, are drawing increasing fire from European environmentalists, who argue that they promote industrial factory farming and help to subsidize rainforest destruction.

As noted in an earlier post, Cancun Confusion, there is a fundamental asymmetry when the environmental cost of producing a commodity occurs in a different place than where the commodity is consumed. Brazillians can be blamed for failure to consider the environmental consequences of their development policies but so can the EU consumers of those commodities.

LDCs won't farm their way to prosperity and development yet they will suffer the consequences in degraded environments.

posted by back40 | 9/01/2003 01:36:00 PM


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