Money Still Talks
Monday, August 24, 2009 | Author: eventer79
Brazilian rainforest, incredibly rich and globally important, is still under relentless attack. The latest threat is expansion of South American soybean fields. And much of this expansion is funded and encouraged by US-based agribusinesses. Soy is included to some extent in almost every food group these days, it feels like. There are many claims that all this soy is "American soy" -- but all too often that is only a half truth. It may be American OWNED soy, but it was NOT grown on US soil. Instead, it grew on land in Brazil that used to be lush rainforest, vital carbon sink, irreplacable wildlife habitat and source of dazzling biodiversity. Many major agribusinesses claim they will not have soy grown on cleared rainforest but law enforcement in Brazil is sparse and underfunded so actual follow-through is scarce.

A new effort has begun to pay Brazilian farmers and landowners to leave the forests standing. Many residents do not want to see their forest razed, but when faced with the choice of feeding their family or starving, is not fair to expect them to choose the latter in the interests of conservation. I've said it before and I'll say it again: HUNGRY PEOPLE DON'T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT ENDANGERED SPECIES. We have to give them a better option than short term "boom and bust" payoffs that are a result of typical rainforest clearing.

Cleared land can sell for about $1300 an acre (yes, these landowners are getting robbed considering the profits that the agribusinesses are making). If you had 100 acres, this would net you $130,000. That's still a hell of a lot of money if you happen to live in rural Brazil. A local environmental group is offering $12 per acre per year to leave the forest in place. For your same 100 acres, that is $1200 per year. You'd have to live 108 years to make your $130,000. We're going to have to do better than that. If they could get $50 an acre, that interval would go down to 26 years, a much more realistic time frame.

What can we do about it? Well, money even talks to rich agribusiness companies -- don't spend your money there. Try and avoid soy-based products when you can. Soybean oil is often used to make "biofuels", particularly biodiesel as well. Just say no. Reducing demand is key, as is pushing for increased support of the conservation process. If you cannot support conservation financially, push your representatives and media sources to recognize and take action in the process. Be the squeaky wheel, wanderers, and demand the Right Thing!
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On August 25, 2009 at 3:39 PM , Once Upon an Equine said...

That picture is very eye opening.

On August 25, 2009 at 8:19 PM , eventer79 said...

Sadly, it is a pretty typical sight. The critters don't stand a chance against that.