Soy is Now a Leading Cause of Rainforest Deforestation in Brazil
Rhett Butler, conservationist and photographer, in an article about deforestation on his excellent site http://www.mongabay.com/brazil.html writes:
“Recently, soybeans have become one of the most important contributors to deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. Thanks to a new variety of soybean developed by Brazilian scientists to flourish in rainforest climate."
Philip Fearnside, co-author of a report in Science [21-May-04] and member of Brazil's National Institute for Amazonian Research in Manaus, explains, "Soybean farms cause some forest clearing directly. But they have a much greater impact on deforestation by consuming cleared land, savanna, and transitional forests, thereby pushing ranchers and slash-and-burn farmers ever deeper into the forest frontier. Soybean farming also provides a key economic and political impetus for new highways and infrastructure projects, which accelerate deforestation by other actors."
"There is also a concern that GMO technology mentioned above threatens biodiversity, farmers rights and the environment - what is needed is a ban on these technologies and not an erosion of the moratorium under the pretext of scientific impact and risk assessment," said Haerlin. Terminators, or GURTS (Genetic Use Restriction Technologies), are a class of genetic engineering technologies which allow companies to introduce seeds whose sterile offspring cannot reproduce, preventing farmers from re-planting seeds from their own fields. The seeds could also be used to introduce specific traits which would only be triggered off by the application of proprietary chemicals provided exclusively by the same companies. Terminator technologies would allow companies to prevent the public from accessing the results of future breeding, which is the present rationale of plant breeders' rights and even patents.