A Research of the Environmental and Social Effects of the Adoption of Biotechnological Practices for Soybean Cultivation in Argentina


In recent years, the excessive and unregulated implementation of biotechnological practices has placed a large number of farmers in a precarious position throughout our country. Here we review and we analyzed results produced in field experiments installed along the Argentinean Pampas to determine environmental and social effects of the adoption of biotechnology practices associated with direct sowing (DS) of soybean. The use of machinery for farm work, the perfection of handling techniques, the incorporation of improved seeds, and the use of fertilizers and pesticides together influenced a significant increase in the productivity of the land, manual labors and capital. Despite positive economic results of this agricultural renewal also brought about consequences that proved to be detrimental to producers. By the end of the 1980s numerous sectors were in states of crisis. The major findings of our research are: 1) exhaustion of resources; 2) erosion problems brought on by inappropriate land use and soil compaction by increased area under DS system; 3) loss of biodiversity in the ecosystem; 4) crisis among family-owned farms who cannot access to new improved technologies due to profitability, obsolete machinery and the impossibility of access to credit; 5) reduction in smaller farms; 6) increase in specialized production, which implies the subordination of farming production to the dynamic of capital and finally more direct relationships between the entities generating technology and primary productions. The results of our study on adoption of biotechnology practice associated to DS of soybean give the following results: 1) the deterioration of family income from farms reached 41% per hectare comparing the average values of the 1990s to the 1980s. Farms smaller than 190 hectares, therefore, ceased to be “competitive” in Buenos Aires State, it can be observed a reduction of 24.2% in the number of farms. This occurred due to a reduction of small and medium-scale farmers associated with the concentration of land into farming units of more than 500 hectares; 2) annual losses in rural work rise 17.043.000 $/year or US$ 4.260.750 or, from another point of view, 4.128 tractor drivers, 3.926 mechanics and 4.600 farm workers, with an overall 12.000 rural workers; 3) increase of subsoil compaction and soil erosion was found due to high axle load of machinery equipment which also caused a decrease in crop yields ranging between 9% and 38% of the total yield per hectare of soybean crop, affecting the producers.

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Botta, G. , Tolón-Becerra, A. , Lastra-Bravo, X. and Tourn, M. (2011) A Research of the Environmental and Social Effects of the Adoption of Biotechnological Practices for Soybean Cultivation in Argentina. American Journal of Plant Sciences, 2, 359-369. doi: 10.4236/ajps.2011.23041.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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