Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Argentina's move from beef to GMOs

I was nosing around for some news on Monsanto today and found an interesting article about GMOs in Argentina. Forever associated with cattle farming by me, thanks to the hundreds of hours I would spend leafing through travel books and encyclopaedias as a kid, it seems that Argentina's taken on a new identity as a world leader in the monoculture production of transgenic soy. So popular is this crop with Argentine farmers -- it fetches top dollar and is incredibly low-maintenance to -- that recent efforts by the government to encourage farmers to diversify their crops led to roadblocks set up by angry farmers, which in turn led to food shortages across the country.

So, today transgenic soy is Argentina's main export, taking up over half of its agricultural land, polluting its water and soil. And none of it is human grade -- it's all destined for feedlots halfway around the world. Soy's expansion in Argentina seems to be costly in other ways, however. Small farmers are finding themselves displaced to make room for bigger farms run by what some call ''soy barons'', and these small farmers end up no better off than seasonal migrant workers. Some of Argentina's protected areas are also being sacrificed to enable the crop's transportation, too. According to many articles, the cost of expanding the production of transgenic soy in Argentina even seems to come at the cost of Argentineans being able to feed themselves. And why? To export Round Up Ready soybeans to Asia and Europe to keep them supplied with beef. It's a funny little world, ain't it?

For more information on the situation in Argentina, please visit the Organic Consumers Association's website.

No comments: