Monocultures: The industrial North condemns the developing South

Monocultures: The industrial North condemns the developing South

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By Social Watch

Economic growth at any cost has led many developing countries, especially the Latin American ones, to concentrate their agricultural production on a limited variety of crops, and often just one. They have been forced to do so by the demand of industrialized nations, putting food sovereignty and security at risk, according to the 2012 Social Watch Report, entitled Sustainable development: the right to a future, which will be presented on December 15 in New York. .

Economic growth at any cost has led many developing countries, especially the Latin American ones, to concentrate their agricultural production on a limited variety of crops, and often just one. They have been forced to do so by the demand of industrialized nations, putting food sovereignty and security at risk, according to the 2012 Social Watch Report, entitled Sustainable development: the right to a future, which will be presented on December 15 in New York. .

Monoculture in vast areas, extractive exploitation and large energy projects are some aspects of the priority that governments assign to economic growth, wrote Roberto Bissio, coordinator of Social Watch, in the foreword of the report.

"Biofuels, often considered 'green', are a major cause of environmental disturbance in Colombia, where government support for agribusiness monoculture (which supplies the input for biofuels) is the cause of the displacement of entire populations of small-scale farmers" Bissio explained. "Adding insult to injury, this is not even a consequence of domestic demand but of the needs of the United States, and is subsidized with credits from multilateral development banks."

"In Guatemala, the monoculture is sugar cane, also a great source of biofuels, and its industrial exploitation has also led to the displacement of populations, human rights violations and deforestation," he added. “Coffee is the culprit in Nicaragua. The country depends on its export, and the expansion of this crop is depleting soil fertility, polluting water resources and promoting deforestation, while peasants are displaced from their traditional lands. "

Explanations of the growth of this agricultural model in much of the developing world have a finished example in the Finnish national report in this edition of the Social Watch global study: “There are several examples of major Finnish companies claiming to be world leaders in sustainability. and they have established large-scale monocultures of eucalyptus (Stora Enso, UPM) and oil palm plantations (Neste Oil) in the global South, which contribute to the displacement of communities and large-scale land grabbing ”, the study indicates. written by Otto Bruun, Service Center for Development Cooperation Finland (KEPA).

Here are some excerpts from the national contributions to the 2012 Social Watch Report on the causes and consequences of monocultures:

Argentina: The kingdom of soybeans and oilseeds

Agriculture is one of the main pillars of the Argentine economy. The international increase in the prices of products in the sector has favored the deepening of the agricultural production model on an industrial scale, in which the monoculture of soybeans and oilseeds currently prevails. But at present the negative consequences of that process have become evident.

Agriculture is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after the industrial sector. Per capita CO2 emissions are almost double the average level in the region. Furthermore, the unrestricted use of agrochemicals has had a negative impact on the environment and the health of the population. The Children's Environmental Risk Atlas has indicated that in Argentina "approximately three million children live in a situation of environmental risk caused by agrochemicals." According to the Carrasco Report, glyphosphate - the most widely used agrochemical in the country - can cause deformities and is dangerous for various animal and plant species.

Meanwhile, agricultural production has extended its frontier, encroaching on native forests. This invasion has affected peasant and agricultural communities, which are forced to join production schemes that contradict their customs and traditions, without any form of prior and informed consent. [National report prepared by the Environment and Natural Resources Foundation, FARN.]

Brazil: Expanding the agricultural frontier

In recent years, Brazil has defended and expanded a development model that concentrates income and power in a political and economic elite, linked to large agro-industrial and financial capital. This model is based on several bases: agricultural exploitation, especially monocultures such as soybeans and sugarcane (for the production of sugar and ethanol) that use transgenic seeds and abuse the pesticides marketed by transnational companies. […]

On repeated occasions, attempts have been made to make environmental legislation more flexible. The attack against the Forest Code is the best example of the strength of the interests linked to agricultural operations within this campaign of flexibility, and of its strategy of expansion of the Amazonian agricultural frontier.

One of the measures sought by rural owners, through the reform project that is being processed in the Chamber of Deputies, is the reduction from 80% to 50% of the forest reserve area that all rural properties in the Amazon must maintain. [National report prepared by the Institute of Socioeconomic Studies, INESC.]

Colombia: Biofuel Production Displaces Entire Populations

In Colombia, biofuel production has worsened the peasant economy, displaced entire populations, and destroyed natural ecosystems. […] In recent years, government support for activities based on agro-industrial monocultures has deepened over small-scale peasant agriculture, causing the displacement of entire populations. […]

The production of biofuels requires large monocultures of sugar, corn, oil palm or soybeans, and this productive practice erodes the soil and depletes its nutrients. In addition, water resources are compromised due to pollution produced by extraction and refining procedures, and the area of ​​arable land dedicated to food production is reduced, which increases food prices and aggravates food deficiencies of the poorest sectors of society.

The use of soybeans and corn for the production of biofuels, for example, is affecting the price of these products in the food market. The boost given by the US to the use of ethanol has caused corn to overcome historical price peaks. [National report prepared by the Cactus Corporation, National Coordination of the Colombian Platform for Human Rights, Democracy and Development.]

Guatemala: Sugar cane devastates the jungles

Since the beginning of the 16th century, when it was conquered by Spain, the Guatemalan economy has been based on agriculture and the intensive exploitation of the land through both large estates based on monocultures for export and from smallholdings established in the production of infrasubsistence and subsistence. […] The sugarcane industry, which devastates forests by razing them to dedicate the fields to the cultivation of sugar cane, is an example of the unsustainability of the model currently implemented.

Based on the economic and political power exercised by its owners, this industry has even managed to divert the course of rivers to guarantee the irrigation of its crops. Among the environmental consequences of this interference is the higher incidence of floods in winter and droughts in summer, as well as the release of greenhouse gases: “about 90-95% of the sugarcane cultivated in more than 200,000 ha , is burned as part of the industrial process. At a rate of 50 kilos of carbon dioxide per hectare burned, this generates around 9 thousand tons of said gas annually ”. […]

This has led to the virtual disappearance of natural forests: the annual rate of deforestation is around 82,000 hectares, which would mean that by 2040, if this trend continues, all forests would have disappeared. [National report prepared by the Coordination of NGOs and Cooperatives of Guatemala, CONGCOOP.]

Nicaragua: Coffee depletes the soil and pollutes the waters

The country will not access a sustainable development model unless it overcomes the current impoverishment of resources. Soils are being overexploited, fishery resources are on the verge of depletion, deforestation is increasing due to indiscriminate logging and unsustainable agricultural practices, and dependence on coffee crops damages, among others, water resources. […] The country's main problem in terms of environmental degradation is its dependence on coffee cultivation. 26% of Nicaraguan agricultural establishments are dedicated to it, occupying 15% of the arable land, and 25% of the area dedicated to exportable crops.

According to América Economía: “The Nicaraguan Export Processing Center (Cetrex) reported that coffee has generated USD 154 million in the first five months of the 2010-2011 harvest (October-February), which represents about USD 85 million more than the same period of the 2009-2010 harvest ”.

The problem is that intensive coffee cultivation is extremely aggressive for the environment, leading to deforestation, loss of biodiversity, agrochemical pollution, soil erosion and, above all, the depletion of water resources, due to the large amount of water used in its cultivation and processing. The Nicaraguan environment, attacked and preyed upon for more than a century by fruit farming, cannot indefinitely support the growth and expansion of coffee cultivation if agricultural policies are not applied that regulate cultivation techniques and allow soil recovery. No sustainable growth can be expected from a barren and depleted terrain. [National report prepared by the Civil Coordinator.]

Social watch - RedTM December 2011 -

Video: Why Democracy Failed In Africa (June 2022).


  1. Yojind

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  2. Conner

    the phrase is deleted

  3. Lameh

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  4. Zulkijind

    not required)

  5. Cody

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