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Is GM Soybean Cultivation in Argentina Sustainable?

Johanna Choumert-Nkolo and Pascale Phelinas

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Abstract: This paper explores the long term sustainability of Argentina’s specialization in genetically modified soybean cultivation. It is conceived as an evidence-based assessment of the most relevant economic, social, and environmental, implications of the “soybeanization” of Argentinian agriculture. We combine 2 sources of primary and secondary quantitative data: the National Agricultural Census, and farm level data from a field survey carried out in 2 provinces of the Argentinian Pampas. Our results suggest a major conflict between the success of the “soybeanization” of Argentinian agriculture measured in terms of production and profit records, and the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of this new model of production. GM soybean package adoption has increased farm productivity, and has reduced the costs per unit produced. The resulting dramatic increase in profits constituted a strong incentive to extend the scale of production. The development of companies comprising actors from both agricultural and non-agricultural sectors, constituted a good way to extend the scale of production. But this technological innovation in agriculture has been the source of numerous criticisms. It is widely held among Argentinian researchers, in particular, that soybean expansion has increased land inequality and displaced labor. However overall we find a mixed empirical picture of changing land distribution patterns and labor displacement resulting from the soybean expansion. The environmental implications of agricultural biotechnology are alarming, and the long-term sustainability of GM crops can seriously be questioned. In a context where GM soybean production has become one of the strategic components of Argentina’s economy, as well as in the country’s international positioning, our results suggest that it is highly unlikely that the government will implement policies against this precious crop and its by-products. However, promoting sustainable agricultural growth has become not only desirable, but necessary.

Keywords: Sustainability; GM soybean; Latin America; Argentina; Agribusiness (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr and nep-env
Date: 2016-08-25
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Working Paper: Is GM Soybean cultivation in Argentina sustainable ? (2018) Downloads
Journal Article: Is GM Soybean Cultivation in Argentina Sustainable? (2017) Downloads
Working Paper: Is GM Soybean Cultivation in Argentina Sustainable? (2016) Downloads
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