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Brazil's Forests Are Being Cleared to Plant Soy

Stashed in: Awesome, Brazil, Wolf!, Climate Change, World Hunger, Anteaters, Climate Change!, Food Industry

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Making room for soy plantations means clearing land, and in tropical Brazil, clearing land often means clearing rainforests. The country remains one of the most biodiverse in the world, but that’s rapidly changing. Soy cultivation is moving into the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, where in coming years 38 species of mammals, birds, and amphibians are predicted to go extinct. The Amazon is also a major carbon sink: its estimated 80,000 species of plantsabsorb about 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year and play a crucial role in offsetting global warming by lowering the planet’s levels of greenhouse gases. As plants and soil there are dug up to be replaced with soy crops, that stored carbon is released back into the atmosphere, speeding global warming.

And it’s not just rainforests that are threatened by Brazil’s ever-growing soy production. The Cerrado, the vast savannah region that covers one fourth of the country, is also one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet. But over the past decade, it has been particularly vulnerable, not only to soy plantations but also to cattle-raising operations; between 2002 and 2008, the Cerrado lost an average of 14,000 square kilometers each year. Those numbers meanhuge losses to the habitat’s 32 endangered animal species, as well as to native plant species, widely depended on by locals as food or medicine, and almost half of which are found nowhere else on earth.

When it comes to soy in the average diet, it’s true that the meat industry is a much bigger driver of soy production than is demand for soy products such as tofu. The majority of the soy grown in the world ends up in livestock feed, to be given to poultry, pork, cattle, and farmed fish, or as soybean oil. But about six percent of soy does go directly into all those meat- and dairy-free foods we like to feel so virtuous about eating: soy milk, tofu, and the whole huge range of fake meat products.

So the next time you’re digging into a bowl of spicy stir-fry for dinner, think of the maned wolfand the giant anteater, who (unwillingly) gave up their home to make way for your healthy meal.

I like that you have an anteaters stash. For your stash:

Aren't there better places to plant soy?

The U.S. produces 75 million metric tons of soybeans per year.

I like this description from your article:

More recent generations of GM soybeans have included traits that have benefits for oilseed processors and the consumer. Seeds containing more that one of the attributes is said to have “stacked traits.”

Eastern Oregon is growing irrigated soybeans.  Can't get the PDF to attach.

If Brazil moved to different GM soybeans could they stop clearing rainforest?

Apparently Brazil can do whatever it wants. 

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