Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Fueling the recovery – the Soya market and Argentina

An added and somewhat controversial factor in Argentina's soya production is that 99% of the country's soya crop is genetically modified. This has triggered much debate between advocates and opponents of GM soya. Recently the New Scientist magazine painted a negative picture of Argentina's use of GM soya. The GM soya being grown is sold by Monsanto and is programmed to be resistant to Roundup, a Monsanto patented herbicide. The New Scientist article suggested that farmers are using twice the regular amount of herbicide to stop &ldquorogue soya” destroying other crops. Not only is this potentially damaging to the environment but also to farm workers, rural communities and livestock. It has also been suggested that too much use of herbicides will lead to the creation of so called &ldquosuperweeds”. These &ldquosuperweeds” would be resistant to current herbicides and wreak havoc with crops as hey become harder to combat. However, most industry experts remain unconvinced. Industry analyst Alejandro Dillon suggests that the negative aspects of GM soya are &ldquogreatly exaggerated”. He concedes that if there were no crop rotation for a period of 5 to 10 years where farmers were to only grow soya and a soya monoculture were created the emergence of superweeds would be feasible. Lucas Pombo, a farmer in the northern province of Santiago del Estero, concedes that the creation of a soya monoculture is a possibility and although he continues to rotate his crops other farmers are reluctant to do so. The desire to cash in on high soya prices means that farmers are reluctant to move away from the crop. It remains to be seen if high soya prices can be sustained, though due to the nature of the market and large expected increases in Brazilian production in the coming years it is unlikely that soya will be able to maintain a consistently high price over the next 5-10 years. This should allow farmers to rotate their crops and lessen their dependency on soya.

There is a consensus that the creation of a soya monoculture in Argentina is not desirable and the agricultural sector should avoid becoming soya dependant. GM soya does have benefits. It is comparatively cheap to use, has higher yields and has helped to ease the problem of soil erosion on the pampas(soil erosion on the pampas was caused by ploughing but GM is planted by direct drilling in to the soil). Though over reliance on any one crop is never advisable. The long-term implications of Argentina's soy boom remain to be seen. The question of sustainability has become the central theme in the nation's soya boom in a still relatively uncertain debate. What is clear though is that GM soya has become an easy to produce cash crop that is helping to fuel Argentina's current economic recovery, and many farmers will be reluctant to turn their backs on it in the near term at least.

  • Pages: 1
  • 2

Leave a Reply