“The expansion of soy has drastically changed the lives of many people”

An investigation analyzed the impacts of a decade of soy expansion on the environment, employment and migration in the Pampeana and Chaco regions. According to the work, the changes that have taken place put sustainable development in tension.

International trade reaches almost every corner of the planet. The decisions of one country affect the development of many others, even if they are far away. An emblematic case is that of China, which by increasing its demand for soy produced an unprecedented expansion of cultivation in Argentina.

In this context, a study by the Faculty of Agronomy of the UBA (FAUBA), CONICET and the Bariloche Foundation analyzed the changes produced by the advance of soy between 2000 and 2010, and how this impacted social, environmental and productive aspects in two regions of our country. country.

While in the Chaco Region the area of ​​forests and pastures was reduced, in the Pampeana Region the livestock and agricultural diversity decreased, and unemployment and migration from cities to the periphery of large cities increased.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals — or SDGs — seek to direct international efforts to fight poverty, protect the planet and ensure peace. In this sense, the global market can favor the achievement of some of these goals, but at the same time it can harm others.

Soy production can be positively linked to the Zero Hunger goal, as it is used as an input for livestock production, but how does this affect the other goals??” asked Florencia Rositano, professor in the Agricultural Education Area at FAUBA.

To meet the demand of the international market, in several countries of the world, such as Argentina, soy has expanded and brought several consequences. That’s why we decided to study how this growth impacted 14 social, agronomic and ecological variables between 2000 and 2010.

We analyzed 126 municipalities both in the Pampeana Region —the area with the highest agricultural production in the country— and in the Chaco Region, an area with large extensions of forests and natural fields.said Florence.

The soy expansion study

soy, social impacts, deforestation, population, displacement, migration, environmental damage

According to Rositano’s study, published in the scientific journal Anthropocene, the advance of the crop had different effects on the variables of each zone. “In the Chaco region, the area of ​​forests and pastures has been reduced, as has the provision of ecosystem services.

As their soils are fragile and do not support many years of soy, the loss of forests and pastures did not occur directly for cultivation, but indirectly to receive livestock displaced from other areas.”.

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The professor added that in the Pampeana Region, soybeans advanced through fields and livestock and the diversity of crops that were cultivated decreased. “On the other hand, employment, the economically active population and the density of households were reduced and migrations increased.

As soy cultivation does not require so much labor, many people lost their jobs, left their homes and migrated to the outskirts of large cities in search of more opportunities. In general, it is young people who leave, and in cities there are fewer people or the population is aging.”.

In addition, he noted that illiteracy and families with unsatisfied basic needs declined very little. “This occurred in both areas despite the fact that in that decade public policies linked to improving people’s quality of life and literacy were promoted.”.


The researcher noted: “In general, soy is associated with environmental impacts, but it also has several social consequences.

Based on her results, Florencia, who is also a researcher at CONICET, highlighted that the international soy trade had many consequences in the analyzed regions. “The expansion of the crop compromises several SDGs. For example, the SDG that points out the importance of maintaining cultural identity when promoting migration.

It also negatively affects the SDG on climate change, as it brings with it deforestation and its consequent inability to capture carbon by forests, and the SDG on sustainable agricultural systems, as soy monoculture is not compatible with this category.”.

In this sense, he considered that it is essential to respond with public policies that take into account multiple aspects of reality. “In general, the environmental consequences of soy expansion are thought of, but the measures taken must also include the employment and uprooting of people.”.

To conclude, the researcher highlighted that, thanks to the fact of analyzing the variables together, she was able to detect different socio-ecological patterns. “In the future, it would be interesting to delve deeper into the changes that occur in floodable surfaces from the expansion of soybeans.

When a natural system is replaced by a crop, groundwater movements are generated, since they have different water absorption capacities, and this can generate different social impacts.”.


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