Argentine Republic: social, environmental and productive impact of the soybean expansion

Argentine Republic: social, environmental and productive impact of the soybean expansion

By Renee Isabel Mengo

The substantial increase in Argentine agricultural production with the imposition of soy monoculture, is linked to a growing environmental deterioration and a strong economic concentration and social exclusion. The cost of the undervaluation and overexploitation of natural resources - which should be included in macro and microeconomic accounting - calls into question the efficiency and sustainability of the "modern" agricultural production model, both nationally and internationally.


The article raises general considerations about neoliberalism in its practice and, in the particular case of analysis, the topic refers to the social, environmental and productive consequences of the expansion of soy cultivation in Argentina, transforming agriculture into an exclusive monoculture of the aforementioned oilseed. It is necessary to clarify that those who subscribe to these reflections do so from the Social Sciences, very concerned about the impact that the compulsive change brought about. It does not constitute a technical study at the level of agriculture, but reflections to be disseminated.

In the decade of the 90s, the processes of economic reconversion linked to the increase in world commercial exchange spread on a planetary scale, influencing social life and business strategies in different parts of the world.

We are witnessing the transformation of the production - distribution model, a new role of the State that moves away from the traditional model of the Welfare State, an economy open to transnational actors, with a new role for private capital in the exploitation of natural resources, and a "reterritorialization" configured from new communications, new regulatory frameworks, and intense processes of economic integration and complementation [1]

The new economic dynamics shows an accentuated process of opening, an offensive national strategy to prioritize exports, particularly energy, and imposes the reconversion of regional productive activities, in order to achieve sufficient levels of competitiveness to access markets, under conditions of Increasing demand in prices and quality in processes and products. From this, a profound alteration is imposed in the business modality, in the relationships between the agents that make up the regional economic subsystems, between concessionaires and users, between the private capitals of production and services, defining new strategies of association and competition, and new ways of managing work.

Territories, spaces for production and exchange, transportation systems, and the city system are redefined; New logics are imposed in the use of natural space, resources, and territory. The anthropization of ecosystems is intensifying, new activities interfere with differentiated productive horizons and contradictory technological models, and new actors are installed on the regional scene with behaviors more linked to the global dynamics of business than to regional history.

The neoliberal order that has been imposed will have to face a profound transformation, no longer urged by social movements, but by a reality much less negotiable or susceptible to political-military repression: the scarcity of renewable resources and the imbalance that they themselves carries.

Changes in the Argentine Republic

Between the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, the diversity of Argentine agricultural production was mutating due to neoliberal premises in the concept of profitability, including the compulsive adoption of the monoculture of transgenic soy for forage use [2]. The current economic process is based on an important comparative advantage that up to now has been its mainstay but which under the intensification of agriculture becomes increasingly unsustainable with respect to the environment.

At the end of the 90's, Argentina began to establish itself together with the United States as one of the first countries to authorize the planting of genetically modified crops (hereinafter GM), allowing the cultivation of Roundup Ready soybeans (hereinafter RR). This variety of glyphosate resistant seed (marketed under the name of Roundup), is developed by the American firm Monsanto, which has patented property rights not only over RR seeds, but also over their offspring [3]

Starting with the 1991 policy, the deregulation carried out by the Menem Presidency and its economy minister Cavallo, INTA [4], which had developed a correct policy of agricultural varieties and cultivars for decades for the different Argentine growing areas , he was forced to hand over his germplasm collection to multinational seedbeds that have since appropriated the secrets of national production. From then on, INTA was little less than a decorative figure, at the service of Monsanto and the cereal companies, in whose hands the control and export of grains remained when the National Grain Board was destroyed.

This deregulatory policy as an expression of neoliberal premises, destroyed Argentina's food sovereignty, initiating a process that is reaching its peak, transforming our country into a colony from the food point of view.

In this way, it is in 1997 when through an administrative resolution of the Secretary of Agriculture, without the participation of the National Congress, without any law and without carrying out previous experimental tests by official organisms, decisions were made based on the tests carried out by the interested companies themselves.

Argentine farmers leaned towards this technology because it appeared as the solution to the problems they faced. Since 1980, the most fertile agricultural region of the national territory, the so-called humid pampas, has experienced strong soil erosion. According to INTA, around half of the 5 million hectares is affected by the influence of a notable process of erosion that causes the yields of these lands to fall by at least one third. To try to solve this problem, farmers began to experiment with the “zero tillage” system - consisting of the direct sowing of seeds on the land, without the need to practice any other form of tillage, finding the inconvenience of not being able to control weeds.

In this scenario, RR soybeans burst as a solution from heaven, since this seed allowed the implementation of the "zero tillage" system, avoiding the customary need to carry out the five or six applications of a herbicide cocktail, because now the weed control is reduced to just two applications of glyphosate.

The new technology was also presented as a low-cost alternative. Thus, while farmers in the United States paid a premium of at least 35% to grow GM varieties, Argentina, having not yet signed an international patent agreement, was limited to contributing a small fee to Monsanto.

These elements led to the fact that, driven by the apparently insatiable external demand for soybeans, Argentine farmers will turn to its cultivation en masse through the application of this new technology.

In the mid-1990s, two determining factors took place: on the one hand, the sharp drop in international prices for Argentine products, and on the other, a series of significant changes in domestic conditions, generated by convertibility, privatizations and total deregulation of the sector. In this context, the strongest economic actors used the support of the State and the help of an effective communication device to mark the way towards increasing agricultural production with specialization in oilseeds and the export of their derivatives. As always, the dominant discourse posited that this path was not only the only possible path but it was also the path to paradise.

This decision would entail changes in the productive orientations and in the agrarian social structure, with the consequent disappearance of many farmers. Undoubtedly, today we can see that this new production scheme has resulted in a tremendous deindustrialization, which responds to a long-term structural crisis, and has dragged the national economy to a primarization concentrated in very few agro-productive sectors.

This process was depriving farmers of seeds of national germplasm stabilized by the ecological conditions of our regions, reaching the current extreme where cultivars and varieties of bread wheat, candeal wheat, corn, peas, lentils, tomatoes, sorghum, flax, have disappeared. sunflower, potato, sweet potato, etc., planted for decades and developed in the country by INTA or the Ministry of Agriculture in other times, transforming the old granary of the world into a dangerous soybean republic.

With respect to traditional soybeans (non-transgenic), the one that had been expanding continuously since the mid-sixties, is from 1994, with the authorization of the agricultural authority for the cultivation of RR Soy (transgenic soybean with added genes for Resistance to the Round-up herbicide), that soybean cultivation grows exponentially, occupying more than half of the total production of Argentine grains.

GM agriculture

Although transgenic is a serious problem in itself, the most serious aspect of the cultivation of RR soy is its cultivation system and the little known action of continuous monoculture of soy on the fertility and structure of the soils where it is grown.

The RR soybean cultivation system, which makes it ‘so profitable’ in terms of mining and immediate agriculture to which the informal voices of agriculture are so close, is based on its resistance to the Round-up herbicide (Glyphosate). This allows the RR soy to grow under the Round-up sprays, in such a way that this soy is implanted through a system called direct seeding. In other words, the soil is not broken, but on the stubble of the previous crop, after applying herbicide, RR soy is sown, using a high-power sowing equipment suitable for sowing without breaking. A posteriori Round-up is applied plus the necessary pesticides in successive applications by means of aerial fumigations or with special equipment.

After more than a decade, the situation has produced a biological desertification of the Argentine soils, it seems that an immense process of devastation, erosion and structural desertification of the soils subjected to the system of direct seeding and cultivation of RR soy is developing.

The non-plowing of the soil, which could be seen at first as a beneficial practice, ended - within the framework of this system and the ecosystem of the soils that it affects - producing compaction, excessive accumulation of organic residues that cannot be mineralized, decrease soil temperature (which brings about a decrease in nitrogen fixation by soybeans and therefore the need to fertilize it with Nitrogen). It also produces modifications in the microflora and microfauna of the soil. The continuous use of herbicide destroys the bacterial life of the soil, allowing the proliferation of fungi that modify the chemistry of the mineralization of organic matter, destroying the natural fertility of our soils [5]

The macrofauna of the cultivation ecosystem is brutally affected by this system of continuous chemical contamination of the soil: gulls and other birds disappear due to the absence of clearing, as well as hares due to poisoning and absence of green stubble, partridges lay sterile eggs, The worms (of fundamental beneficial action for the soil) are destroyed by the massive use of agrochemicals, damaging effects have been observed even in rheas and the massive disappearance of birds, guinea pigs, butterflies and other habitual members of the ecosystem in the places is public knowledge. of massive application of this system of destruction of the components of the ecosystem and its transformation into an inert sustenance of a semi-industrial mining production. This system devastates the biodiversity of the agricultural ecosystem.

But the continued use of herbicides and insecticides also produces the appearance of super-weeds resistant to said herbicide, which forces to increase its doses and when this is no longer possible, to use other herbicides such as 2-4-D, Atrazine, Paraquat, Diquat and other products, which are mostly carcinogenic, highly toxic and pollutants of the soil and water bodies.

The cultivation of RR soy is spreading massively as it is in fact supported by the policies generated from the dominant economic power. The high rate of gross profitability of RR soybeans is linked to the very high price of diesel oil, since the Repsol company decided not to produce it in the country but to import it, which makes any crop that can compete with soybeans more expensive. by direct sowing. The high cost of the machinery to do direct sowing forces to work in large areas of land, forcing the concentration of the land, either by sale, lease or abandonment. But always implying the development of a production system without farmers.

The other element is the relative low cost of the Round-up in the herbicide market, taking into account that Monsanto itself sells in black to make it cheaper and that there is now a Round-up of Chinese origin that is cheaper than Monsanto's. It should be noted that in the United States, the place of origin of RR soybeans, it occupies only 40% of soybean production and that the State regulates its expansion through the price of the herbicide and the seed.

Depending on the future

The dizzying expansion of transgenic soy monocultures has occurred as a result of a combination of favorable factors that may stop operating or reverse, because

  • We should relativize the success of soy and its future viability because this crop is advancing on the best soils, where there is less risk; It is doubtful whether it is convenient to extend its border to drier areas because the risks increase when advancing over more fragile environments.
  • In the Litoral region (east of the country) the presence of soybean rust has been detected, which has already caused a serious reduction in the yield of crops in Brazil.
  • In 10 years, the planted area of ​​soy will decrease, it is estimated that the ceiling that the border will reach is 15,000,000 ha.
  • Another factor to take into account is the market limits because soybeans currently have an exceptional international price, it is estimated that the future price of this grain will be 40 or 50% below the current one. The reason is that the higher the production of soybeans, the supply increases and its price decreases.
  • In agricultural systems, the technology-production relationship has thresholds, that is, at the beginning of one of them, an introduction of technology causes a substantial increase in production but, from this point on, the technological increases do not cause a relevant effect. until another threshold occurs.
  • The issue of monoculture is questioned taking into account the problems of collection and markets, but the social and environmental consequences that it entails continue to be ignored.

To document what is being described, the results of the 1988 and 2002 agricultural census are shown comparatively. [6]

Between the 1988 National Agricultural Census (CNA) and that of 2002, fourteen years passed with insufficient statistical information for the Argentine agricultural sector. Comparing the results provided by INDEC (National Institute of Statistics and Censuses). The number of agricultural holdings (EAP) decreased by 24.5%, that is, there are 103,405 EAP fewer today than in 1988; registering in turn an increase of 27.8% in the average surface of the EAP, going from 421 has. in 1988 to 538 has. in 2002.

Regarding the livestock stock, it can be observed that although the head of bovine cattle remain stable between censuses, an interesting data is provided by the National Agricultural Survey (ENA) between 1994 and 2000. In the ENA 1994, 53,156,954 heads of cattle were calculated. cattle, while the ENA 2000 records 48,674,400, that is, there was a negative variation of 4,482,554 head of cattle.

The total area of ​​the EAP in 2002 is 171 million hectares, with a decrease of 6 million hectares in the intercensal variation, along with this process there is an increase of 5.2% in the area implanted in first occupation , which implies a greater area destined to agriculture.

The expansion of soy in Argentina allows a deeper understanding of the transformations of agriculture. The first important data, according to the agricultural census, is the growth of the area sown in the country with oilseeds (soybeans and sunflower): it went from 5,430,710 to 9,018,447 hectares, that is, a growth of the order of 66% . If we make a cut by region, the growth is variable, but in all cases spectacular: 60% for the Pampas region, 86% for the Northeast region of Argentina -NEA-, and 138% for the Northwest region of Argentina - NOT-.

The growth of soybean cultivation is even more surprising if not the census measurements are taken, but the measurements of the Directorate of Coordination of Delegations of the SAGPyA de la Nación [7]. According to this organization, the area planted with soybeans increased, from 1.9 million hectares in the 1980/81 season to 11,639,240 hectares in 2002, thus representing almost a third of the total area planted in the country in the same year (32,422,707 hectares). This would imply an area growth in relation to 1988 of 163.7%. While on the contrary, based on data from this same source, the other crops have not only decreased in cultivated area (except for exceptions), but also add a much smaller amount of sown area: wheat with 7,108,900 hectares, corn with 3,064,276 hectares, sunflower with 2,050,365 hectares, rice with 126,519 hectares, among others.

Since the appearance of transgenic soybeans on the scene, all crops have considerably reduced their cultivated area. Rice is the percentage that has decreased the most in cultivated area, 44.1% less, followed by sunflower, which under its planted area by 34.2%, then comes corn that lost 26.2% of surface cultivated. In the case of wheat, it should be clarified that the percentage of area loss is not particularly significant (3.5% less), since its fluctuation in the period is very high, with 2002 being a specific year of decline. In this sense, we should say that the incorporation of the transgenic soybean crop has not influenced in the case of wheat, what happens is that wheat and soybeans are two crops that are combined in the soybean / wheat sequence [8].

While soybeans are growing in almost all the provinces where they are being cultivated, livestock numbers are decreasing and other crops are “shrinking”. The diversity of productions (cotton, lentils, sugar cane, milk, meat, rice, etc.) that supplied the country were reduced compared to the uniformity of export soybeans, generating an "inexplicable" shortage and an increase in the basic basket Argentina. Since the devaluation of 2002, the basic food basket (CBA) increased by 73%, and only 4 of the 23 products that make it up explain almost all of the increase: milk, meat, cheese and bread.

The association between RR soybeans and direct sowing, which facilitated the expansion of the agricultural frontier, advancing on marginal areas and native forests, largely explains the advance of this crop in the extra-Pampa region. A work prepared by the SAGPyA Directorate of Agriculture maintains in its conclusions: “Based on the behavior of the crop in both regions (Pampean and extra-Pampa), it is concluded that soybeans have displaced other crops (substitution effect) and, in turn, once it has spread to areas once considered marginal from the agroecological point of view with good results thanks, precisely to the association transgenic soy + direct seeding. " [9].

Table I: progress of the area sown between the 96/97 season and 01/02, by the most important crops (in hectares).

Percentage difference(44,1%)(26,2%)(34,2%)(3,5%)74,5%

Source: own elaboration with data from SAGPyA.

This great transformation that we point out as a product of the emergence of transgenic soy, which we sustain from census data and which admits journalistic supplements from the sector, has generally occurred at the expense of other crops. But also on other agricultural activities, such as dairy farming, livestock, industrial crops, etc. When not on the expansion of the agricultural frontier advancing on native mountains (as in the case of the provinces of Chaco, Santiago del Estero and Salta).

Currently, 80 percent of the land suitable for agriculture has soybeans, and when it began to be noticed that the area was saturated, the expansion of the border began to other areas of the involved provinces and to new provinces such as (the northeast) Santiago del Estero, Chaco, Formosa and Entre Ríos [10]. Paradoxically, the planted area grows as the international price of soy falls, a crisis that began in the (years) 90 in Southeast Asia is thus being resolved with a greater expansion of the crop.

The 2002 National Agricultural Census (CNA), presented by the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INDEC), showed that the policies implemented in the 1990s led to a strong concentration of land and a decrease in productive diversity. Two clear phenomena that threaten the sovereignty and food security of the country. According to the CNA, the average area per farm in 2002 was 538 hectares, an area that in 1988 was 470 hectares. While in the United States this area is 200 hectares and in Europe it is only 50 hectares. In the northern country there are the exceptions of the "ranches" that have 2,000 hectares, in Argentina the agricultural "mega-entrepreneurs" have extensions of up to 350,000 hectares.

As a point of tension, in the midst of an important bid for interests on the part of the corporations, the Argentine countryside faces a growing economic concentration and a strong exclusion of workers that leads to a rural exodus. The process of technification in production in the history of capitalism always brought as a consequence the reduction of labor. In this case, the Argentine socio-economic context configures a scenario where emigration from the countryside to the city is presented as a new constitutive element of the development of social marginalization. The migrants from the countryside make up the new and immense belts of urban poverty, which discovered in the city, abruptly and simultaneously, both the festival of cheap imports and the growing unemployment produced by the massive closure of industrial companies. To glimpse the magnitude of the emigration phenomenon, it is enough to compare two situations based on the data provided by the Censuses. On the one hand, “in 1991 it was determined that 4.27 million inhabitants lived in rural areas; that is, 13.1% of the entire country ”. On the other hand, the data from the census carried out in 2001 show a notable decrease: the rural population is now only 2.6 million, that is, it represents 7.2% of the Argentine population.

In turn, small and medium agricultural producers disappear, increasing the country's poverty and unemployment rates. We see that unemployment in rural areas and in the small cities of the interior increased, due to the disappearance of regional crops and the saving of labor that soy production means. The countryside is depopulated, and the cities impoverished and starved. In this way, we say that the growth of soybean cultivation has occurred, at the same time that the number of producers in the country decreases by 24% -especially small ones-, and that the specter of food shortages haunts the country .

This process of social transformation, presented as mere technological adoption, has important consequences both within the agricultural sector and also in Argentine society. The small and medium producers, who previously had a good standard of living with the productive rotation of their hectares and even created jobs for third parties, could not enter the soybean model. The disappearance of this strip of producers that consumed and operated in the place, derived in dire consequences for the intermediate towns and cities, which are surrounded by countryside and that lived from their intermediate activities (mechanical workshops, small shops of agricultural supplies, insurance companies, cooperatives, etc.). This phenomenon can be verified by observing the economic-social deterioration of the towns and small cities in the interior.

The chronic deficit of the road network, rural electrification, educational and health centers, among others, contributed to the decrease in the number of farms. The National Agricultural Censuses show that between 1988 and 2002 in our country 103,405 farms disappeared (24.5%) and the average surface of the productive units rose from 421 to 538 hectares. Thus, conditions were generated that facilitated productive models around soybean cultivation.

In dairy areas, the expansion of soybeans at the expense of the area dedicated to that production also harmed rural workers and businesses related to services to dairy farming, producing falls in the demand for specialized labor. In this sense, it is necessary not to lose sight of important aspects such as the risk of food self-sufficiency [11].

The displacement of some productions entails significant capital losses, as in the case of dairy farms and cotton gins. The spinning industries that still exist are forced to import cotton lint from neighboring countries in order to function and respond to the rapid reactivation that the spinning sector has experienced in the last eighteen months; basically this presupposes importing "wages".

This model of agricultural production lays its foundations in increasing productivity through the incorporation of new technologies. Thus, the reduction in the workforce is not the only, nor the most serious consequence. The so-called productive efficiency is based on the relevant "natural subsidy" offered by the humid pampas, endowed with incomparable fertility. The overexploitation of this resource is part of a process similar to that of mining and, consequently, it may be exhausted within a few years. The degradation of this factor includes problems of erosion, loss of fertility and soil structure, salinization, export of nutrients, alkalization, crusting, impacts on biodiversity, affectation of the aquifer, and flood problems.

It is urgent to recognize the value of the nutrients in Argentine soils and prevent their free extraction through the application of sustainable regulation and control instruments. With this operation, the protection and recognition of the environment would be achieved, materializing the valuation in the percentage disbursement of the corresponding specific income that is generated.

We must not forget that the location of Argentina, together with the United States, as the main producers of transgenic soybeans, qualitatively changed the composition of its agricultural production. Argentina was one of the largest food producers in the world, particularly wheat and meat. The soy economy caused about 150,000 farmers to leave the field, and this translates into a sharp drop in the production of vital inputs such as milk, rice, corn, potatoes, lentils, etc.

The transnational seed companies - Cargill, Nidera, Monsanto - made us a country that produces transgenic soybeans and exporters of fodder. At the same time, we see huge food shortages in the population.

About 12 million hectares of transgenic soybeans –in a total of 26 million hectares with other crops–, irrigated with more than 100 million liters per year of herbicide, produce huge amounts of soil devoid of all microbial life that does not retain water.

The convergence of certain factors such as the increasing volumes of production, the fiscal resources originated in withholdings, the stabilization of the value of the currency, together with good profit margins for farmers, means that soybeans have been the engine for the recovery of broad industrial and commercial sectors. Sales of agricultural machinery have already grown by about 80% compared to 2002, and those of "pick up" vehicles now represent 40% of the total operations carried out by automakers.

Estos hechos favorecieron la concentración de la tierra, pues naturalmente se busca ampliar la escala para reducir los costos. A su vez, la expansión de la frontera agropecuaria hizo que muchos campesinos con tenencia precaria de la tierra fueran expulsados.

El desplazamiento de algunas producciones supone pérdidas importantes de capital, como en el caso de los tambos y las desmotadoras de algodón. Las industrias hilanderas que aún subsisten se ven obligadas a importar fibra de algodón de países vecinos para funcionar y responder a la rápida reactivación que el sector hilandero ha vivido en los últimos dieciocho meses; en el fondo esto presupone importar "salarios".

El desequilibrio biológico y la posibilidad de nuevas plagas, tales como la "roya de la soja", forman parte de los riesgos de este proceso y de la sostenibilidad de los sistemas en el largo plazo. Este aspecto también puede hacerse extensivo a nuevas plagas insectiles y malezas. Por último, desde el punto de vista comercial, también existen riesgos, por ejemplo la utilización de barreras para-arancelarias.

No debería confundirse crecimiento económico con desarrollo. En numerosas comunidades extrapampeanas existe como consecuencia de la sojificación una gran expansión económica, pero esto se da generalmente en manos de unos pocos, considerados "grandes" y que sistemáticamente trasladan los recursos generados hacia fuera de la región donde se originan; en consecuencia la calidad de vida –indicador clave en el desarrollo– de los habitantes del lugar no mejora significativamente y las zonas rurales se siguen despoblando. Las actividades productivas desplazadas tenían patrones de equidad muy diferente al que actualmente se ha instalado [12].

Pensar en la modernización no sólo es ver lo tecnológico productivo (las semillas, los biocidas, la maquinaria, los fertilizantes, etc.) sino también la organización del sector agropecuario y las capacidades gestionarias de sus actores, con objetivos comunes y logrables. Las innovaciones tecnológicas alcanzan su madurez y llegan a transformarse en "commodities"; la perfecta organización entre los agentes económicos de una cadena de valor en pos de la competitividad que conlleve beneficios para el conjunto es una innovación que no se transforma fácilmente en un commoditie, y de allí que se pueden sostener ventajas competitivas.


El modelo neoliberal implementado desde la década de 1990, ha puesto en evidencia la incompatibilidad entre los intereses del mercado y el bien común. La disyuntiva política es optar por el mercado o por el país. La situación es inmanejable si el mercado sigue imponiendo las reglas, las cuatro multinacionales que exportan son las que deciden las políticas agropecuarias de este país y el Gobierno mantiene su renunciamiento a construir políticas de Estado en el sector.

Al presente, Argentina es el tercer productor de soja a nivel mundial, el segundo productor de soja transgénica, el primer exportador de aceite y de harina de soja. La expansión de la soja en Argentina ha desplazado otros cultivos como el arroz, el maíz, el girasol y el trigo; y ha trasladado otras actividades hacia áreas marginales [13].

Los monocultivos de soja y el modelo de agroexportación de commodities son un problema de carácter estructural que demanda estrategias integrales en que el Estado debe comprometer un amplio espectro de políticas activas con respecto a:

  • Dejar de dar oxígeno a la soja; si la soja fracasa y tenemos trigo, nosotros seguimos comiendo pan y la crisis del mercado de la soja no afecta lo que consumimos.
  • Evitar que las multinacionales manejen las políticas productivas.
  • Desconcentrar la economía.
  • Promover los policultivos y las rotaciones complementarias. En este momento de crisis hay que aportar ideas para que se vuelva al cultivo de especies tales como el alcaucil, la batata, etc.
  • Pensar en un mercado interno y salir de la dependencia exclusiva de la exportación. Un ejemplo terrible de esta dependencia es Tucumán, provincia atada a los monocultivos, caña, limón y soja, y que necesita imperiosamente diversificar su producción para dar de comer a la propia población.
  • Implementar una política de recolonización del campo incentivada con subsidios.
  • Restaurar el tejido social rural conformando redes que unan los asentamientos con los centros urbanos locales. Es imprescindible recuperar el ferrocarril porque constituye un nexo vital que posibilita el transporte de producción a los centros de acopio, si no hay ferrocarril, no hay reinserción posible de la pequeña producción.
  • Hay que revertir la concentración de la comercialización y de los insumos en una misma empresa.
  • Tomar en consideración la necesidad de ejercer la soberanía alimentaria.
  • Introducir en las políticas y en los razonamientos económicos los costos ambientales y sociales que actualmente no se computan, pero que se han ido acumulando aterradoramente en esta última década.
  • El Estado debe ocuparse del planeamiento estratégico.

Es evidente que el plan global que se nos impone es el de territorios dedicados a la producción de commodities para la exportación y una masa de población sobrante y mísera mantenida por el asistencialismo o las ONGs en lo que se denomina "economía de la pobreza". Todos los programas de ayuda social implican deuda externa y, además, las experiencias productivas que se promueven con ellos tienen que competir desventajosamente con la producción en gran escala. Esto a simple vista se evidencia que no tiene sentido

El sistema puede estar pensando una alternativa posterior a la catástrofe que se avecina, compensando o poniendo en juego otros territorios, por esta razón también es preciso tener una perspectiva latinoamericana.

Millones de familias se retiran cada año de las zonas rurales y la población en la periferia de las ciudades ha aumentado considerablemente. Los impactos de la expansión de la soya amenaza a la soberanía alimentaria e incluso las familias argentinas han tenido que reemplazar la proteína proveniente de la carne por productos derivados de soya (cambio en la dieta alimentaria). Dado que la soja se ha establecido como cultivo principal, el costo de los precios de los otros alimentos ha incrementado y se ha iniciado la importación masiva de productos que han sido llevados a categorías de alto valor dentro del mercado que a su vez son de difícil acceso para la población.

La problemática de la tenencia y posesión de la tierra de las comunidades campesinas también ha sido una de las causas del proceso de sojización.

Necesitamos instalar un discurso que vincule la soja y el hambre como causa y efecto, enfatizando en la paradoja de que el modelo sojero no remedia el hambre; más aún, la potencia. Hay que volver a producir para la gente.

Los impactos ambientales de la sobreexplotación de recursos agrícolas por la presión agroexportadora son, y seguirán siendo, pagados por las actuales y futuras generaciones.


El sustancial aumento de la producción agrícola argentina con imposición del monocultivo de la soja, va unido a un creciente deterioro ambiental y a una fuerte concentración económica y exclusión social. El costo de la subvaluación y sobreexplotación de los recursos naturales -que debería incluirse en la contabilidad macro y microeconómica- pone en duda la eficiencia y sostenibilidad del modelo de producción agrícola "moderno", tanto nacional como internacional.

*Dra. Renee Isabel Mengo – Córdoba, Argentina


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[1] Pierre, Bourdieu. "Neoliberalismo: la lucha de todos contra todos" Nota del Clarín del 13 de abril de 1998, sección Opinión.

[2] Alberto Lapolla . “El monocultivo de soja transgénica: ¿Gran negocio o política de dominación colonial?” publicado por la revista Enfoques Alternativos, Buenos Aires. Octubre de 2003.

[3] Facundo Boccardi, y Rodolfo Boccardi. Soja en Argentina: Cosecha Amarga. En:/content/view/full/66465

[4] INTA. Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agraria. El avance de la soja en la Argentina y la sostenibilidad de lossistemas agrícolas. Documento Institucional del Consejo del Centro Regional Santa Fe del INTA.Fuente:

[5] Jorge Lapolla. Op.cit.

[6] III Jornadas interdisciplinarias de Estudios Agrarios y Agroindustriales, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas (UBA), Noviembre 2003. Fuente:

[7] La diferencia entre una y otra medición radica básicamente en dos cuestiones: a) el censo toma solamente las superficies implantadas en primera ocupación, b) el censo no tiene en cuenta las superficies de la explotaciones que tienen su origen en "Avisos C" interprovinciales (“En los casos de productores que no residían en las EAP, se puso en práctica un sistema de intercambio de información por medio de los llamados "Avisos C" y los censistas acordaban los lugares para realizar las entrevistas. Se trata de casos en que los productores fueron censados en otra provincia, y aún no han sido asignados a la provincia en que se encuentra la EAP”).

[8] Cabe aclarar la diferencia entre soja de primera y soja de segunda, la primera se refiere a la soja que se siembra en el mes de agosto y la cosecha se realiza en marzo; mientras que la soja de segunda se siembra en diciembre y se cosecha entre fines de marzo y comienzos de abril.

[9] Dirección de Agricultura, SAGPyA El quinquenio de la soja transgénica, SAGPyA, septiembre de 2002.

[10] Marcela Valente. Agricultura Argentina: El desierto verde. Fuente: Terramérica –. 14 de septiembre de 2003.

[11] Walter A. Pengue. Documentos del Foro de la Tierra y la Alimentación, Investigación sobre la transnacionalización de la agricultura y la alimentación, Informe de Argentina. Fuente:

[12] INTA. Op.cit.

[13] RALLT, Red por una América latina libre de transgénicos. Publicado en su Boletín 122.Resumen de un informe técnico sobre la situación de los cultivos transgénicos en Argentina .publicado por el economista agrario CharlesBenbrook . 2003. Fuente:

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