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GM soya disaster in Latin America: Hunger, deforestation and socio-ecological devastation

(Friday, Sept. 9, 2005 -- CropChoice news) --

1. Monsanto's switch to seeds boosts earnings
2. Monsanto's American Seeds buys 5 regional seed companies
3. Global seed industry concentration - 2005
4. Debate heats up over county GMO initiative
5. GM soya disaster in Latin America: Hunger, deforestation and socio-ecological devastation

1. Monsanto's switch to seeds boosts earnings

(MSNBC.com, September 4, 2005)

Nearly a decade ago when Monsanto's agricultural herbicide patents were running out, the company began to switch its focus from herbicides to seeds. The transformation was completed a couple of years ago when genetically modified seeds and traits bypassed herbicides to become Monsanto's largest moneymaker. By the end of 2004, 17 countries had approved the use of Monsanto's GM seeds, accounting for 199 million planted acres worldwide, up from 166 million acres in 2003. The seed business has upped Monsanto's profits and stock. Company stocks were up nearly 20 percent from the beginning of the year to the Aug. 31 close of $63.84 a share.


2. Monsanto's American Seeds buys 5 regional seed companies

9/02/2005, 5:18 PM CDT

Monsanto Company's American Seeds, Inc. (ASI) subsidiary announced today it has made five additions to its family of regional seed companies in cash transactions totaling approximately $52 million. The five companies together represent 1% of the US corn seed market. The specific terms of the individual transactions were not disclosed.

ASI separately acquired four companies that are the shareowners of the CORE Group: Fontanelle Hybrids, based in Fontanelle, Nebraska; Stewart Seeds, based in Greensburg, Indiana; Trelay Seeds, based in Livingston, Wisconsin; and, Stone Seeds, based in Pleasant Plains, Illinois. CORE group is an association of family-based seed companies in the Corn Belt.

In a fifth transaction, ASI acquired Specialty Hybrids, which serves the Eastern Corn Belt.

The four CORE Group companies will be combined into a single independent operating company within ASI. Specialty Hybrids will retain its current structure and become an independent operating company in the ASI organization.

"The ASI model is entirely unique within this industry," said Kerry Preete, vice president of US crop production at Monsanto Company. "This model fully utilizes the capabilities we've developed in our technology platforms placing it squarely behind local seed brands that can serve farmers with a unique personal touch."

"Because of its uniqueness, there is a great deal of opportunity for ASI to grow, and acquisitions like the CORE Group and Specialty Hybrids fit nicely into the type of investments we're committed to make to continue the acceleration of ASI's growth," said Preete.

3. Global Seed Industry Concentration - 2005

News Release
ETC Group
5 September 2005

The ETC Group today releases a new Communique on seed industry consolidation that shows a recent upsurge in seed industry takeovers and a shake-up in rankings.

According to ETC Group, the top 10 multinational seed firms control half of the world's commercial seed sales. With a total worldwide market of approximately US$21,000 million per annum, the commercial seed industry is relatively small compared to the global pesticide market ($35,400 million), and it's puny compared to pharmaceutical sales ($466,000 million). But corporate control and ownership of seeds - the first link in the food chain - has far-reaching implications for global food security. A single firm, Monsanto, now controls 41% of the global market share in commercial maize seed, and one-fourth of the world market in soybean seeds. The same company's seeds and biotech traits accounted for 88% of the total area planted in genetically modified seeds worldwide in 2004.

ETC Group's report includes a table listing many of the world's top 20 seed companies and their acquisitions and/or subsidiaries.

The full text of the 12-page Communique is available free of charge for download on the ETC Group website: http://www.etcgroup.org

IMPACT: With control of seeds and agricultural research held in fewer hands, the world's food supply is increasingly vulnerable to the whims of market maneuvers. Corporations make decisions to support the bottom line and increase shareholder returns - not to insure food security. Ultimately, seed industry oligopoly also means fewer choices for farmers. A new study by the US Department of Agriculture examines the impact of seed industry concentration on agbiotech research. The study concludes that reduced competition is associated with reduced R&D. Despite seed industry claims to the contrary, concentration in the seed industry is resulting in less innovation - not more.

PLAYERS: A fistful of transnational firms, the Gene Giants, dominates global seed sales. Monsanto, Dupont, Syngenta - all among the world's top-ranking pesticide firms - lead the pack.

POLICY: Seed industry concentration is already high on the agenda of civil society and farmers' organizations that are working to support and maintain peasant and farmer-controlled seed systems and against policies and technologies that seek to further privatize seeds. The implications of seed industry consolidation for food security and biodiversity must also be urgently addressed by governments at the FAO biennial Conference in November and by the Conference of the Parties (COP8) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (20-31 March 2006, Curitaba, Brazil).

World's Top 10 Seed Companies + 1
[Based on 2004 seed sales (US) millions]
1. Monsanto (US) + Seminis pro forma = $2,803
2. Dupont/Pioneer (US) $2,600
3. Syngenta (Switzerland) $1,239
4. Groupe Limagrain (France) $1,044
5. KWS AG (Germany) $622
6. Land O' Lakes (US) $538
7. Sakata (Japan) $416
8. Bayer Crop Science (Germany) $387
9. Taikii (Japan) $366
10. DLF-Trifolium (Denmark) $320
11. Delta & Pine Land (US) $315

For more information, contact:
Hope Shand and Kathy Jo Wetter, ETC Group (USA)
tel: +1 919 960-5223
Pat Mooney, ETC Group (Canada) etc@etcgroup.org tel: +1 613 241-2267
Silvia Ribeiro, ETC Group (Mexico) silvia@etcgroup.org tel: +52 55 55 632 664
Veronica Villa, ETC Group (Mexico) veronica@etcgroup.org tel: +52 55 55 632 664

4. Debate heats up over county GMO initiative

August 31, 2005

The two groups, firmly planted on opposite sides of a rural Sonoma County fence, each depict themselves as dedicated friends of "the people" seeking to boost agricultural production, the economy, health and human rights, and often portray their opponents as ignorant, self-serving rascals whose scare tactics leave people shaking in their boots.

Actually, both groups have done extensive research and are working around the clock to spread their viewpoints to Petalumans and other county residents on a highly charged issue that they agree has extraordinary short- and long-term implications.

Underlying these general similarities, however, lie extremely different perspectives on an ordinance that seeks to prevent agricultural and environmental contamination from genetically engineered (transgenic) organisms -- plants, animals or microorganisms whose genetic code has been altered to give them characteristics that they naturally don't have.

Although much of the general public still is unfamiliar with the GMO debate, it has become one of the hottest squabbles in recent memory, sometimes bitterly dividing communities and even households. Several countries, including Australia, Brazil, China, the 25 nations of the European Union, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia and South Korea, already have legal bans or restrictions on the planting of transgenic crops. Marin and Mendocino counties recently passed similar ordinances, while several other California counties rejected them.

"Sonoma County needs to pass this initiative because the federal and state governments are asleep at the wheel in regulating GMOs," Henson said. "Contaminating the genetic source of food products threatens food security, and by comparison dwarves other environmental threats."

GE foods were introduced into the United States in the mid-1990s. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled that these foods are "substantially equivalent" to other foods, but many government scientists caution that the genetic engineering process is unpredictable and could present new hazards to human health and the environment.

"I do not contend that all genetic technologies are bad, or that they all lead to a threat of ecological or agricultural contamination," he said. "Much of the research into transgenic technologies is very exciting, and may offer great potential to farmers and others around the globe.

"However, the current GE crops being grown -- mainly corn, canola, soy and cotton -- have, in fact, proven to be seriously harmful to our U.S. agricultural economy, to our farmers' rights and to our natural ecosystems almost everywhere they are grown."

Henson feels that without regulations, farmers' rights are violated because GE crops from neighboring farms will contaminate other farmers' crops and seed stacks through pollen or seeds brought by wind, winter, animals, birds, insects and trucks and farm machinery.

"Farms from miles away can be affected," he said.

Advocates claim that people's health could be impaired by inhaling GE pollen, eating GE plants and being exposed to toxic herbicides and pesticides that are used to kill new "super weeds" and "super bugs" that emerge as farm pests evolve resistance to GE crops.

"We would have herbicide-tolerant super weeds growing by the side of the road in Petaluma and other places. This initiative isn't just about agricultural crops," Henson said.

He contends that the initiative would help protect Sonoma County's ecosystems from irreversible genetic contamination by GE plants, fish and trees. "From an ecological perspective, genetic engineering can be disastrous. It boggles the mind to think about the consequences, because it could impact all domestic food products. Some back-crossing of DNA from genetically engineered crops to native relatives already has occurred in corn, cotton and canola," he said.

Henson emphasizes the possible long-term risks of using transgenic organisms.

"Once they enter the environment, there's no turning back because they start spreading and contaminating other crops and wild plants," he said, adding that Monsanto and the handful of other chemical companies creating GE products have been driven by greed rather than public welfare.

Lex McCorvey, the executive director of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau and the Sonoma County Family Farmers Alliance, which was created to defeat the initiative, is on the other side of the big fence from Henson, and it's clear that their ideas haven't cross-pollinated.

"After a lengthy analysis, the SCFB believes that the benefits of genetic engineering far outweigh any of the perceived risks," he said. "It will benefit the local agriculture, environment, economy and health care."

He contends that the initiative would stifle the agricultural industry, and that local farms could suffer a competitive disadvantage.

"In agriculture, people need to deal with many outside influences, and any effort we can make that allows them the tools they need to stay in business is positive," he said. "Also, we haven't found any negative long-term ramifications to consuming genetically engineered products. Companies need to go through an eight-to-12-year regulatory process before these products are approved."

McCorvey feels that the county's grape industry would be at a competitive disadvantage if it couldn't use a disease-resistant vine stock being developed and that dairies would suffer because they wouldn't be able to grow their own genetically modified silage.

"We have a lot of dairy farms in Petaluma, and this initiative could be very damaging to them," he said.

McCorvey also feels that genetic engineering can help, rather than harm, the environment.

"I haven't seen any evidence that it will harm ecosystems," he said. "I'm more concerned with deforestation and how it can destroy redwood trees. We need to find new ways to protect the integrity of ecosystems.

"Jonas Salk wouldn't have developed a polio vaccine if people were prevented from doing something unless it has been conclusively proven without exception."

While supporters of the initiative claim that all enforcement costs would be paid by violators, McCorvey estimates that it would be difficult to enforce, and could cost around $250,000 annually to implement. He also criticizes proponents' claim that the initiative allows for medical research in a contained environment.

"Most communities require only a level-1 laboratory. A contained environment is a level-3 laboratory, and no biotech company would want to build one here when it isn't required anywhere else in the world," he said. Despite the strong disagreements, Henson and McCorvey share one common view.

Many people don't understand the impact that the initiative will have, and need to become better informed, they both said, still standing on opposite sides of the fence.

(Contact Dan Johnson at djohnson@arguscourier.com)


5. GM Soya Disaster in Latin America: Hunger, Deforestation and Socio-Ecological Devastation

ISIS Press Release 06/09/05
Prof. Miguel A. Altieri, University of California, Berkeley and Prof. Walter A. Pengue, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina

The fully referenced version of this article is posted on ISIS members’ website.

In 2004, the biotech industry and their allies celebrated the ninth consecutive year of expansion of genetically modified (GM) crops. The estimated global area of approved GM crops was 81 million hectares, a growth of 15 per cent over the previous year. In 22 countries, they claim, GM crops have met the expectations of millions of large and small farmers in both industrialized and developing countries; delivering benefits to consumers and society at large through more affordable food, feed and fiber that require less pesticide and hence more environmentally sustainable [1].

It is difficult to imagine how such expansion in GM crops has met the needs of small farmers or consumers when 60 percent of the global area of GM crops is devoted to Roundup Ready herbicide-tolerant crops. In developing countries, GM crops are mostly grown for export by big farmers, not for local consumption. They are used as animal feed to produce meat consumed mostly by the relatively wealthy.

The new soya republics in Latin America

The Latin America countries growing soybean include Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay. The expansion of soybean production is driven by prices, government and agro-industrial support, and demand from importing countries, especially China, which is the world’s largest importer of soybean and soybean products. The expansion is accompanied by massive transportation infrastructure projects that destroy natural habitats over wide areas, well beyond the deforestation directly caused by soybean cultivation. In Brazil, soybean profits justified the improvement or construction of eight industrial waterways, three railway lines and an extensive network of roads to bring inputs and take away produce. These have attracted private investment in logging, mining, ranching and other practices that severely impact on biodiversity that have not been included in any impact assessment studies [2]. In Argentina, the agro-industry for transforming soybean into oils and pellets is concentrated in the Rosario region on the Parana river. This area has become the largest soy-processing estate in the world, with all the infrastructure and the environmental impacts that entails.

Soybean deforestation

The area of land in soybean production in Brazil has grown on average at 3.2 percent or 320 000 hectares per year since 1995, resulting in a total increase of 2.3 million hectares. Soybean today occupies the largest area of any crop at 21 percent of the cultivated land. The area has increased by a factor of 57 since 1961, and the volume of production by a factor of 138. In Paraguay, soybeans occupy more than 25 percent of all agricultural land. In Argentina, in 2000, soybean cultivation area reached 15 million hectares and the total production was 38.3 million tonnes. All this expansion is at the expense of forests and other habitats. In Paraguay, much of the Atlantic forest has been cut [3]. In Argentina, 118 000 hectares of forests have been cleared in Caco State, about 160 000 hectares in Salta, and in Santiago del Estero a record 223 000 hectares. In Brazil, the cerrado and the savannas are falling victim to the plow at a rapid pace.

Expulsion of small farmers and loss of food security

Biotech promoters always claim the expansion of soybean cultivation as a measure of the successful adoption of the transgenic technology by farmers. But these data conceal the fact that soybean expansion leads to extreme land and income concentration. In Brazil, soybean cultivation displaces 11 agricultural workers for every one who finds employment in the sector. This is not a new phenomenon. In the 1970s, 2.5 million people were displaced by soybean production in Parana, and 0.3 million in Rio Grande do Sul. Many of these now landless people moved to the Amazon where they cleared pristine forests. In the cerrado region, where transgenic soybean is expanding, there is relatively low displacement because the area is not widely populated [4].

In Argentina, the situation is quite dramatic as 60 000 farms went out of business while the area of Roundup Ready soybean almost tripled. In 1998, there were 422 000 farms in Argentina while in 2002 there were only 318 000, a reduction of a quarter. In one decade, soybean area increased 126 percent at the expense of dairy, maize, wheat and fruit production. In the 2003/2004 growing season, 13.7 million hectares of soybean were planted but there was a reduction of 2.9 million hectares in maize and 2.15 million hectares in sunflowers [5]. For the biotech industry, huge increases in the soybean area cultivated and more than a doubling of yields per unit area are an economic and agronomic success. For the country, that means more imports of basic foods, therefore loss of food sovereignty, and for poor small farmers and consumers, increased food prices and more hunger [6].

Millions of hectares of Roundup Ready soybean were planted in Brazil in the period 2002-2003, while a moratorium was in effect. How did the big multinationals manage to expand cultivations of transgenic crop so extensively in developing countries? During the early years of introducing transgenic soybean into Argentina, Monsanto did not charge farmers royalties to use the technology. But now that farmers are hooked, the multinational is pressuring the government for payment of intellectual property rights, despite the fact that Argentina signed UPOV 78, which allows farmers to save seeds for their own use. Nevertheless, Paraguayan farmers have just signed an agreement with Monsanto to pay the company $2 per tonne.

Soybean cultivation degrades the soil

Soybean cultivation has always led to erosion, especially in areas where it is not part of a long rotation. Soil loss has reached an average rate of 16 tonnes per hectare per year (t/ha/y) in the US Midwest, far greater than is sustainable; and soil loss levels in Brazil and Argentina are estimated at between 19-30 t/ha/y depending on management, slope and climate. No-till agriculture can reduce soil loss, but with the advent of herbicide tolerant soybean, many farmers now cultivate in highly erodible lands. Farmers wrongly believe that with no till systems there is no erosion, but research shows that despite improved soil cover, erosion and negative changes in soil structure can still be substantial in highly erodible lands if weed cover is reduced.

Large-scale soybean monocultures have rendered Amazonian soils unusable. In areas of poor soils, fertilizers and lime have to be applied heavily within two years. In Bolivia, soybean production is expanding towards the east, and in many areas soils are already compacted and suffering severe soil degradation. One hundred thousand hectares of land with soils exhausted due to soybean were abandoned for cattle-grazing, which in turn further degrades the land. As land is abandoned, farmers move to other areas where they again plant soybeans and repeat the vicious cycle of soil degradation.

In Argentina, intensive soybean cultivation has led to massive soil nutrient depletion. It is estimated that continuous soybean production has extracted about 1 million metric tons of nitrogen and about 227 000 metric tons of phosphorous. The estimated cost of replenishing this nutrient loss via fertilizers is US$ 910 million [5]. Increase of nitrogen and phosphorus in several river basins of Latin America is certainly linked to the increase of soybean production.

A key technical factor in the rapid spread of soybean production in Brazil was soybean’s pseudo-symbiotic relationships with nitrogen-fixing bacteria living in root nodules that allowed soybean to be produced without fertilizers. This claimed productive advantage of soybeans in Brazil can quickly disappear in the light of findings reporting direct toxic effects of the herbicide glyphosate on the nitrogen-fixing rhizobium bacteria; which would make soybeans dependent on chemical fertilizers for nitrogen. Moreover, the common practice of converting uncultivated pasture to soybeans results in a reduction of the economically important rhizobia, again making soybean dependent on synthetic nitrogen.

Soybean monocultures and ecological vulnerability

Ecological research suggests that the reduction of landscape diversity caused by the expansion of monocultures at the expense of natural vegetation has led to insect pest outbreaks and disease epidemics. In such poor and genetically homogenous landscapes insects and pathogens find ideal conditions in which they can grow unchecked by natural controls. This leads to increased used of pesticides, which after a while are no longer effective due to the development of pest-resistance or ecological upsets typical of the pesticide treadmill. Pesticides also cause major problems of soil and water pollution, elimination of biodiversity and human poisonings. The humid and warm conditions of the Amazon are also favourable for fungal growth, resulting in the increased used of fungicides. In Brazilian regions under tillage soybean production, the crop is increasingly being affected by stem canker and sudden death syndrome.

Soybean rust is a new disease, increasingly affecting soybeans in South America, requiring increased fungicide applications. In addition, since 1992, more than 2 million hectares have been infected by cyst nematodes. Many of these pest problems are linked to the genetic uniformity and increased vulnerability of soybean monocultures, and also to the direct effects of Roundup on the soil ecology, through the depression of micorrhizal fungal populations and the elimination of antagonists that keep many soil-borne pathogens under control [7].

A quarter of all pesticides applied in Brazil are used on soybean, which in 2002 amounted to 50 000 tonnes. As the soybean area rapidly expands, so does the growth in pesticide use; it is now increasing at a rate of 22 percent per year. While biotech promoters claim that one application of Roundup is all that is needed for whole season weed control, studies show that in areas of transgenic soybean, the total amount and number of herbicide applications have increased. In the USA, the use of glyphosate rose from 6.3 million pounds in 1995 to 41.8 million pounds in 2000, and now the herbicide is used on 62 percent of the land devoted to soybeans. In Argentina, Roundup applications reached an estimated 160 million litre equivalents in the 2004 growing-season. Herbicide usage is expected to increase as weeds start developing resistance to Roundup.

Yields of transgenic soybean average 2.3 to 2.6 t/ha in the region, about 6% less than conventional varieties, and are especially low under drought conditions. Due to pleiotropic effects (stems splitting under high temperatures and water stress) transgenic soybean suffer 25 percent higher losses than conventional soybean. Seventy-two percent of the yields of transgenic soybeans were lost in the 2004/2005 drought that affected Rio Grande do Sul, and a 95 percent drop in exports is expected with dramatic economic consequences. Most farmers have already defaulted on 1/3 of government loans.

Other ecological impacts

By creating crops resistant to its herbicides, a biotech company can expand the market for its patented chemicals. The market value of herbicide-tolerant crops was $75 million in 1995; by 2000, it was approximately $805 million, more than 10-fold increase. Globally, in 2002, herbicide-tolerant soybean occupied 36.5 million hectares making it by far the number one GM crop in terms of area [1]. Glyphosate is cheaper than other herbicides, and although it reduces the use of other herbicides, companies sell altogether much more herbicide (especially glyphosate) than before. The continuous use of herbicides and especially of glyphosate (or Roundup, Monsanto’s formulation) with herbicide-tolerant crops, can lead to serious ecological problems.

It has been well documented that when a single herbicide is used repeatedly on a crop, the chances of herbicide-resistance developing in weed populations greatly increases. About 216 cases of pesticide resistance have been reported in one or more herbicide chemical families [8]

Given industry pressures to increase herbicide sales, the acreage treated with broad-spectrum herbicides will expand, exacerbating the resistance problem. The increased use of glyphosphate will result in weed resistance, even if more slowly. This has already been documented with Australian populations of annual ryegrass, quackgrass, birdsfoot trefoil, Cirsium arvense, and Eleusine indica [7]. In the Argentinian pampas, eight species of weeds, among them two species of Verbena and one species of Ipomoea, already exhibit resistance to glyphosate [5].

Herbicide resistance becomes more of a problem as weeds are exposed to fewer and fewer herbicides. Transgenic soybean reinforces this trend on account of market forces. In fact, weed populations can even adapt to tolerate or "avoid" certain herbicides. For example, in Iowa, populations of common waterhemp have demonstrated delayed germination, which allows them to avoid planned glyphosate applications. The GM crop itself may also assume weed status as volunteers. For example, in Canada, volunteer canola resistant to three herbicides (glyphosate, imidazolinone, and glufosinolate) has been detected, a case of stacked, multiple resistance. And now farmers have to resort to 2,4-D to control the volunteer canola. In northern Argentina, there are several "strong weeds" than cannot be controlled with glyphosate, forcing farmers to resort to other herbicides.

Biotech companies claim that when properly applied, herbicides should not pose negative effects on humans or the environment. In practice, however, the large-scale planting of GM crops encourages aerial application of herbicides and much of what is sprayed is wasted through drift and leaching, affecting human beings as well as soil mycorrhizal fungi and earthworms. The companies contend that glyphosate degrade rapidly in the soil, do not accumulate in ground water, have no effects on non-target organisms, leave no residue in foods and water or soil. Yet glyphosate has been reported to be toxic to some non target species in the soil—both to beneficial predators such as spiders, mites, and carabid and coccinellid beetles, and to detritivores such as earthworms, including microfauna as well as to aquatic organisms, including fish [9].

Glyphosate is a systemic herbicide (i.e. it is absorbed into and moves through the whole plant), and is carried into the harvested parts of plants. Exactly how much glyphosate is present in the seeds of HT corn or soybeans is not known, as grain products are not included in conventional market surveys for pesticide residues. The fact that this and other herbicides are known to accumulate in fruits and tubers because they suffer little metabolic degradation in plants, raises questions about food safety, especially now that more than 37 million pounds of this herbicide are used annually in the United States alone [8]. Even in the absence of immediate (acute) effects, it might take 40 years for a potential carcinogen to act in enough people for it to be detected as a cause (see "Glyphosate toxic and Roundup worse" and "Roundup kills frog", SiS 26).

Moreover, research has shown that glyphosate seems to act in a similar fashion to antibiotics by altering soil biology in a yet unknown way and causing effects such as [8,9] Reducing the ability of soybeans and clover to fix nitrogen.
Rendering bean plants more vulnerable to disease.
Reducing growth of beneficial soil-dwelling mycorrhizal fungi, which are key for helping plants extract phosphorous from the soil.

In the farm-scale evaluations of herbicide resistant crops recently completed in the United Kingdom, researchers showed that reduction of weed biomass, flowering, and seeding parts under herbicide resistant crop management within and in margins of beet and spring oilseed rape involved changes in insect resource availability with knock-on effects resulting in abundance reduction of several beetles, butterflies, and bees. Counts of predacious carabid beetles that feed on weed seeds were also smaller in transgenic crop fields. The abundance of invertebrates that are food for mammals, birds, and other invertebrates were also found to be generally lower in herbicide resistant beet and oilseed rape [10]. The absence of flowering weeds in transgenic fields can have serious consequences for beneficial insects (pest predators and parasitoids), which require pollen and nectar for survival. Reduction of natural enemies leads unavoidable to enhance insect pest problems.


Soybean expansion in Latin America represents a recent and powerful threat to biodiversity in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia. Transgenic soybeans are much more environmentally damaging than other crops because in addition to the effects from the production methods that involve heavy herbicide use and genetic pollution, they require massive transportation infrastructure projects (waterways, highways, railways, etc), which impact on ecosystems and make wide areas accessible to other environmentally unsound economic and extractive activities.

The production of herbicide resistant soybean leads to environmental problems such as deforestation, soil degradation, pesticide and genetic contamination, as well as socio-economic problems such as severe concentration of land and income, expulsion of rural populations to the Amazonian frontier and to urban areas, compounding the concentration of the poor in cities. Soybean expansion also diverts government funds otherwise usable in education, health, and alternative, far more sustainable agroecological methods.

The multiple impacts of soybean expansion also reduce the food security potential of target countries. Much of the land previously devoted to grain, dairy products or fruits has been diverted to soybean for exports. As long as these countries continue to embrace neoliberal models of development and respond to demand from the globalized economy, the rapid proliferation of soybean will increase, and so will the associated ecological and social impacts.