GMO Soy, Miracle or Hex. The two faces of the same "harvest"

GMO Soy, Miracle or Hex. The two faces of the same

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By María Julia Spolita

Argentina, which back in the 1950s was known as the world's granary or the country of fat cows, today has become one of the main producers and exporters of soy worldwide.

This situation has been generated since the beginning of the seventies, increasing in record figures in the 80s and 90s, to the point of reaching 40 million tons harvested in 2005, an amount of production that previously could only be achieved by adding the harvest of all grains.

Undoubtedly, after this sum, it can be estimated that the economic profitability of this oilseed is incredibly beneficial for those who produce it, trade it and for the country that grows and is positioned as the third largest soybean producer in the world.

This is surely the case since around 250 dollars per ton are calculated, that is to say that at this rate and with crops such as those of the last 2005 cycle, Argentine soybean production is around 10 billion dollars. A not inconsiderable sum.

Argentina, which back in the 1950s was known as the world's granary or the country of fat cows, today has become one of the main producers and exporters of soy worldwide.

Of course, the story of this wonderful seed in productive yields brings with it particular condiments that cannot be hidden behind an exorbitant number, even if they try.

Transgenic soy

In 1996, varieties of genetically modified (GM) or transgenic products were released to the market.

These organisms are resistant to herbicides such as glyphosate that allow the soil to be "cleaned" quickly. These crops require very little attention and great economic response in less time than using conventional seeds and chemicals.

By increasing production efficiency, with the use of GMOs, costs can be lowered, fewer inputs are used, yields increase, product quality and nutritional value can be improved, and new products can even be generated.

In Argentina, this practice has been developed since then, in the mid-90s, and until today intensively and in a favorable way for the expectation of producers and again for the country that reaches the aforementioned level of exports in large part by being the second largest producer of transgenic products with a total of almost 15 million hectares planted under this cultivation system.

Unlike other modified crops and with the implementation of direct sowing, transgenic soybeans have given producers greater and better performance conditions at a productive and economic level.

But really, who are the benefits? What this agricultural model raises is nothing more than a type of agriculture without farmers, where the thinking of short-term profitability and the irrational use of resources is superimposed on that of their sustainable use.

Who runs the baton?

The boost that soybeans had in Argentina and its reputation for providing greater productivity and economic performance has led to soybeans being planted wherever possible.

Every year the hectares planted with this crop increase and most of this production, almost all of it, is of transgenic origin.

Those who have the inputs of this genetically modified production system in their hands are a few companies that are monopolizing the agricultural industry, among them are: La Singenta, Bayer and Basf, Agrobiotech, Downchemical, Limagrain, AstraZeneca. The Monsanto Dupont, Norvatis and Adventis.

On the one hand, as soybean cultivation requires less labor and displacing other crops in search of higher yields, many farmers and agricultural employees have been driven out of the field.

On the other hand, these monopolistic companies that initially granted their seeds without major contradictions, today have regulations and contracts that are impossible to circumvent, locking farmers in a vicious circle that subjects them to their interests.

To what extent then can we say that this crop is so beneficial for the country? Isn't it just a few, the majority from abroad, who fill their pockets with large amounts of Argentine production?

However, not only agricultural activity and those who produce it are harmed, but also the environment that is affected by intensive practices and agrochemicals; and the population that suffers from the effects of herbicides on the skin and on the intake of food not suitable for consumption.

Environmental impact

According to Viviana Mariani, Technical Director of the Mokichi Okada Organic Products Certifier (MOA), the impact that soy cultivation produces on the environment “refers above all to the decrease in biodiversity that characterizes each ecosystem (weeds, insects, microorganisms, etc.), death of soil microorganisms by the continuous application of herbicides, contamination of the groundwater table over the years by herbicides, resistance of weeds to the herbicide and a continuous destruction of beneficial organisms (wasps, insects , etc.)"

The first observable consequence in the environment is desertification and along with it the loss of biodiversity, of existing ecosystems.

With herbicides such as glyphosate, the weeds that interfere with the crop are eliminated and that leave the land prepared for other crops with less possibilities to face them, but the effectiveness of these agrochemicals also destroy insects and all kinds of microorganisms existing in said soil and even in neighboring plantations.

In addition, as the sown area expands, more and more hectares are being lost and excessive ambition no longer recognizes even those areas that are protected natural reserves in the country.

In 2004, for example, two lots were sold from the Protected Provincial Natural Area in the department of Anta, Salta.

These are approximately 13 thousand hectares that will be used to produce soybeans and citrus, the most profitable crops in the area, with the objective or the excuse of the governor who assured that with said sale and production, the improvement of provincial routes 5 and 30 will be specified. .

And this, unfortunately, is not the only case in which man's ambition wants to go further and penetrate even those areas that had been saved from the abrupt irruptions of man and his technological advances.

The water is coming

Also since the 70s in Argentina the rains have increased considerably and with them the floods.

This increase in rainfall has been caused by a global climate change, of which we hear frequently about problems such as the ozone layer and global warming, and by other factors, among which are the increasing area planted with crops. low water consumption such as soybeans.

Soybean cultivation does not retain water in the field but lets it run, for this reason, when it rains the water slides through the field and swells the flow of the rivers, sometimes producing floods like those that have occurred in the last few years in the northeast of the country.

Where there was a mountain with trees capable of absorbing water, today there are soybean crops that unprotect the soil and those who cannot fight against nature, which in turn does nothing but go to the consequences of the excessive application of technology, in this case biotechnology.

Social impact

As already mentioned, and as part of the impact that the indiscriminate cultivation of soy produces on society, the imposed system contemplates agriculture with practically no farmers.

More and more producers are excluded, and those that remain are subject to rules imposed by those monopolies that generate genetically modified organisms.

Even with the regrettable and bleakness of this panorama of the agricultural sector, there are much more delicate and important consequences at the social level, which refer to the impact of cultivation on human health.

This negative condition begins in the field with the application of glyphosate that, in addition to damaging biodiversity, has caused the destruction of other crops, poisoning followed by death both in the people who use them and in people who live in surrounding areas.

Glyphosate poisoning can cause lung swelling, gastrointestinal pain, clouding of consciousness, pneumonia, vomiting, eye and skin irritation, and destruction of red blood cells.

Leaving the field and going to the supermarket shelves and to the table, it has been detected that the intake of soy can cause health difficulties. And while there are many controversies around this issue, it is at least virtuous to take precautions and take into account certain data that, based on previous experiences and scientific studies carried out in animals, warn about possible health risks.

Darío Gianfelici, a rural doctor from the province of Entre Ríos, explained that transgenic soy "can cause malformations in men such as lack of descent of the testicles or problems in the constitution of the male urethra. It can also cause prostate cancer and a decreased sperm count. "

Both normal and transgenic soy have plant hormones, isoflavones, which in the human body have estrogenic functions. Hence, its consumption "may increase in women the risk of contracting breast and ovarian cancer as well as endometriosis, that is, the production of uterine epithelium outside the womb."

“Anembryonic pregnancies also often occur. There is fertilization of the ovum and formation of the placenta, but without production of the embryo ", Gianfelici indicated that this pathology" is seen very frequently in those places where the exploitation of soy has been transformed into a monoculture ".

Regarding the consumption of soy in children, Gianfelici recalled that soy "is totally contraindicated in children under two years of age and should be used with great caution in children under five years of age." Soy is deficient in many nutrients and due to its high content of phytates it interferes with the absorption of iron and zinc, as well as not being a source of calcium. "That is why it is incorrect to call what is essentially just soy juice soymilk."

In addition, this soy milk, which is occasionally marketed with added sugar and fruit and vegetable juices, represents a risk factor for increased cavities and dental erosion in children, due to the fact that they have an erosive capacity of the dental enamel by reducing the pH in the mouth.

Furthermore, the isoflavones that soy contains are inhibitors of thyroid peroxidase involved in the synthesis of T3 and T4.

This inhibition can be expected to lead to thyroid abnormalities, including goiter and autoimmune thyroiditis.

There is an important body of scientific data in animal models demonstrating goiter-generating and even carcinogenic effects of soy products.

The most alarming of all this is that, although as we have said there are still many debates about what is true and what is not with respect to the benefits and harms of soy, campaigns have been promoted worldwide proclaiming soy as salvation from famine.

Greenpeace has denounced the transgenic crops industry for projects such as Solidarity Soy, which came to light in mid-2001, saying that they take advantage of “”, through a solidarity campaign, the Argentine poverty and food crisis to "Install soy as a solution to child malnutrition and as a magic food before public opinion", without first having disseminated "critical information" about its consumption ".

Little and nothing

In this way, the benefits of soy have been published in many media and various campaigns have been disseminated that have contributed to the formation of fallacies or at least questionable data.

This erroneous information and the lack of reliable publications, on the other hand, are due, on the one hand, to the fact that the State and the scientists do not report enough and what reaches the media is scarce and doubtful.

On the other hand, there is the position of those media that seek to add positive points to soy in public opinion, either due to political ideals that go with the current model of agricultural production, or due to submission to those large corporations that advertise in their medium and are part of the GMO market.

How can a rural supplement or agricultural magazine that advertises modified seeds or herbicides like glyphosate talk about soy?

The truth is that much of what is published is not completely true, the media, the State and scientists would have to internalize more and prioritize that information that allows citizens to be informed in order to defend themselves against the risks that these cause. .

Considering the environmental and social impact that has been analyzed, it can be concluded that the only thing that is really necessary is to become aware of the irrational use of technology and the need to prioritize life over economic profitability.

* Maria Julia Spolita

Video: Top 6 Worst and 6 Best Garden Fertilizers (June 2022).


  1. Mac Adhaimh

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  2. Dazil

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  3. Lowell

    it is not clear to me

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