The soybean model produces an enormous concentration of land in a few hands, either through the acquisition of the land by large producers or through its leasing by the “Sowing Pools”. To cite just one example: the number of dairy farms decreased 50 percent between 1988 and 2003, from 30,000 to 15,000.
Thirteen years of soy in Argentina. The extensive experience acquired in Argentina after thirteen years of imposing the cultivation of glyphosate-resistant transgenic soybeans gives the rest of the world the opportunity to learn the lesson and not repeat the mistakes or allow the impositions that made it possible for Argentina to become just one decade into a "soy republic".
In 1996, and in a completely underhanded and undemocratic way, the introduction of Monsanto's transgenic soybeans was allowed in our fields. Without independent environmental impact studies, without any type of public consultation, without any parliamentary discussion or legislation to support it. A simple provision of the Ministry of Agriculture created in 1991 the National Advisory Commission for Agricultural Biotechnology (Conabia) that from then on and with broad participation of the corporations "advised" the secretariat on the approval of GMOs.
Now, month after month, we experience in Argentina the emergence of a new socio-environmental problem due to the territorial invasion produced by the imposition of the monoculture of transgenic soybeans by Monsanto and a handful of landowners and planting business associations.
The impacts of fumigations, land clearing, displacement of peasants, lack of food, floods and droughts, new diseases, are common in the news, but only from some alternative media does it appear related to "soybeanization".
All this comes hand in hand with the installation of a fragmented vision of the problems in which their deep causes are hidden in order to analyze or show them, often in a sensationalist way, but always isolated and produced almost as "natural phenomena".
That is why the first and fundamental thing is to recover the integral view of the problem. Only by looking at and analyzing the totality and complexity of the situation will it be possible to reach some useful conclusion to advance in some direction and get out of the destructive wheel in which the agribusiness-soybean-transgenic model has put us.
After thirteen years of expansion of the cultivation of transgenic soybeans in Argentina, the socio-environmental consequences are a true catastrophe. We present a brief review of the specific data that speak of the soy tragedy in the Southern Cone.
In Argentina, 18 million hectares of transgenic soybeans will be planted next season under the direct seeding technique.
This area represents more than 50% of the agricultural area of the country.
Almost 100% of the soy that will be grown is GM soy resistant to the herbicide glyphosate (RR SOY).
RR SOY is owned by Monsanto, the world's largest seed company and also the creator of glyphosate, the herbicide that must be used to grow RR SOY. Monsanto controls 90% of the transgenic seeds that are traded globally.
Monsanto stated that overall earnings increased 44% in 2007 over the prior year and 120% in 2008 over 2007.
This year more than 200 million liters of glyphosate will be applied to the entire area cultivated with soybeans in Argentina, while in 1996 13 million 900 thousand liters were used.
The commercial product whose active principle is glyphosate (Roundup) also contains a series of adjuvants that notably increase its toxicity, mainly the surfactant poea (polyoxyethyl amine) whose acute toxicity is 3 to 5 times greater than that of glyphosate.
Of course, this heavy use of glyphosate has already led to the emergence of many, many glyphosate resistant weeds. Some of those already reported are: Hybanthus parviflorus (Violetilla), Parietaria debilis (Fresh Yerba), Viola arvensis (Wild Violet), Petunia axillaris (Petunia), Verbena litoralis (Verbena), Commelina erecta (Saint Lucia Flower), Convulvulus arvensis (Bindweed), Ipomoea purpurea (Bejuco), Iresine diffusa (Iresine) and recently the Sorghum halepense (Aleppo sorghum) which, because it is a very difficult weed to control, has raised great alarm.
After spending more than a decade denying the emergence of resistant weeds, Monsanto through its vice president admitted this fact and proposed a solution: replace all glyphosate resistant soy with a new soy resistant to a new herbicide: dicamba —de made even more toxic than glyphosate.
In addition, other herbicides and pesticides will be used to control weeds and pests of soybean monoculture since direct seeding requires the application of other herbicides before planting soybeans: between 20 and 25 million liters of 2-4-D, another six million liters of atrazine and about six million liters of endosulfan.
This rain of pesticides produces tremendous impacts on the health of the population, domestic animals, food crops, and pollutes soils, water courses and the air throughout the soybean cultivation area. There are hundreds of cases reported by different organizations and researchers in which the impact of pesticides on communities and their productions is perfectly documented.
The public dissemination of these complaints has recently led the Argentine Association of Environmental Lawyers to request the National Supreme Court of Justice to ban glyphosate fumigation.
This rampant advance in soy has occurred despite the fact that according to recent research from the University of Kansas RR soy produces between 6 and 10% less than conventional soy.
The soy monoculture repeated year after year in the fields produces an intense degradation of the soils with a loss of between 19 and 30 tons of soil depending on the management, the slope of the soil or the climate.
Each soybean harvest extracts thousands of tons of nutrients from our soil every year that are exported. Just as an example, we can cite that each year one million tons of nitrogen and 160 thousand tons of phosphorus go with soybeans.
Each exported soybean harvest also takes about 4.25 billion cubic meters of water each year (data from the 2004/2005 season), with 28.190 million corresponding to the humid pampas.
Every year more than 200 thousand hectares of native forest are deforested in Argentina due to the advance of the agricultural frontier, mainly due to the expansion of the soybean monoculture.
Considering that every 500 hectares of soy requires a rural worker, the expulsion of rural workers and peasants from the territories where it is grown is evident.
The big soy producers are making extraordinary profits. The Los Grobo Group, which claims to cultivate 150 thousand hectares in Argentina and throughout the Southern Cone (Paraguay, Brazil and Uruguay), is committed to controlling 750 thousand hectares.
The soybean model produces an enormous concentration of land in a few hands, either through the acquisition of the land by large producers or through its leasing by the “Sowing Pools”. As a consequence, in the last 10 years, more than 20% of the productive establishments have been lost.
The obvious consequence of this concentration is that the production of basic foods for our people has dramatically decreased. To cite just one example: the number of dairy farms decreased 50 percent between 1988 and 2003, from 30,000 to 15,000.
In the case of cotton, its production decreased by 40% in the province of Chaco and 78% in the province of Formosa as a result of the advance of soybeans.
Thousands of peasants are violently expelled from their lands to impose this model and are criminalized for resisting evictions and the advance of soybeans. The Mocase-VC and the Movimiento Nacional Campesino Indígena permanently denounce the persecution of peasants from the movement for resisting the expulsion of their lands in a violent way to impose the cultivation of soybeans.
Finally, it is essential to bear in mind that the introduction of transgenic soybeans in Argentina was the mechanism chosen by Monsanto to flood the Southern Cone with transgenics, since it was from Argentina that the transgenic soybeans were illegally marketed to Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia (countries in which the cultivation of transgenics was prohibited), flooding these countries with transgenics and thus imposing, from the contamination, the United Republic of Soybeans that Syngenta shortly afterwards publicized.
Who rules the United Republic of Soybeans? The lukewarm attempts of the fragile Latin American democracies to put some limit to the dominant economic power generated by two decades of globalization and economic neoliberalization have found in recent months a forceful bump in the perverse alliance of large landowners with the agribusiness corporations that are acting in brutal way in all the countries of the Southern Cone.
It is not a question here of making a judgment on the democratic governments of the region, nor of evaluating their capacity to transform reality or their commitment to the Latin American peoples. We leave this for the peoples who, from their own processes, are responding and creating spaces to respond and build new realities.
However, we believe that it is not possible to ignore some facts, some notoriously public and others that barely occupy a few columns in the media; all apparently disconnected from each other but deeply linked in a common root which is to subdue the peoples, control their agriculture and food, occupying and destroying their territories.
A common thread runs through all this news and is strengthened as a sobering metaphor for the claims of these sectors: transgenic soybeans and their invasion of territories in the Southern Cone try to be, in fact, the "United Republic of Soy."
Thus, the employer lock-out of the soybean landowners of Argentina that occurred in 2008 showed the path of what later in Bolivia became a fierce aggression charged with hatred, contempt for human life and racism against indigenous peoples.
There appears on the scene as one of the main leaders of the "Media Luna" the president of the Civic Committee for Santa Cruz, Branco Marinkovic, who "coincidentally" turns out to be one of the largest soy producers in the region.
In the days of full democratic change that filled the Paraguayan people with hope, the country was also brutally shocked by the repression against peasants that even led to the death of the peasant Bienvenido Melgarejo and with the large landowners announcing that they are going to resort to arms. to defend their latifundios.
In Uruguay and in the midst of mild government pressure to establish restrictions on the increase of areas for soybean cultivation with the creation of an Agricultural Production Plan, the large soybean farmers also made their voices heard and sowed threats in the mainstream media.
From its authorities, Brazil has already surrendered to GMOs and has turned ctnBio into an automatic door of approval for everything that corporations want.
Uruguay lifted the moratorium on the approval of new GMOs and thus opened the doors for the entry of Monsanto's “new” GMO goods. It is not by chance that transgenic soy appears in a lot of news: it is simply an instrument of corporate control of agriculture and territorial control that comes from the hand of agribusinesses and their employers, large producers and transnational corporations.
Of course, each of these actors has different mechanisms of action: corporations remain silent and do their business while investing enormous sums in advertising in the mass media so as to always have them in their favor and that they are never published in them. public inquiries they receive. They are also the ones who get the support of the United States in those cases in which direct political intervention or in the shadows is needed.
On the other hand, the big soybean producers are those who do their dirty work with different degrees of brutality, but always brutally demonstrate their contempt for life and human dignity to consecrate themselves to the only god they know: the God of Money. So they can cut roads, deplete cities, murder peasants or divide a country.
The United Republic of Soy stands with its high walls and its realm of speculation and death in power. It may be that behind the fall of the financial wall of global capitalism, the walls of this Republic will also begin to fall. The peoples are ready to continue taking charge of their lives and their food.