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Soybean and Deforestation in the United States Essay

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Updated: May 23rd, 2021

During the last several decades, a considerable growth of the soybean industry is observed in the United States. On the one hand, this progress promotes the creation of new working places and feeding opportunities because of the qualities of this legume, its compounds, and cultivating issues. On the other hand, such agricultural expansion is a serious global environmental concern that contributes to further deforestation.

Despite the existing gaps, one fact remains unchangeable: to be properly cultivated and produced, soy needs much land. Even if farmers offer their land for soybean production, they continue using forested areas for their own purposes, making soybean an indirect but dangerous deforestation cause. Effective certification plans and land-use strategies for soy production have to be developed to protect natural areas and local forests from clear-cutting.

In this project, several important terms have to be recognized. Soybean is a legume crop that is rich in proteins and oil. Deforestation is a process of clearing the land for various industrialized purposes. Soy Moratorium (SoyM) is an agreement enacted in July 2006 and signed by sellers not to buy soy that was grown on deforested land. All these terms will be used in this paper to clarify how soybeans cause deforestation in the modern world.

Soybeans become a frequently used crop in many countries, including the United States. According to the article “Soybeans,” posted in the Union of Concerned Scientists, soybean is a crop the production of which continues gaining popularity with about 6% being used “directly into food products for human consumption” and 75% being used as “feed for chickens, pigs, cows, and farmed fish” (https://www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/stop-deforestation/drivers-of-deforestation-2016-soybeans#.W-k1PtUzbIU). It is profitable to use land on its production without even thinking how this demand becomes a serious deforestation driver.

It is not difficult to grow soy in new environments in a short period of time. Economists and planters collaborate to identify additional areas for soybean production, neglecting the threat of elimination of rainforests and the inability for researchers to find out new ways of cultivating this plant. The chosen business brings certain profits and invites more new stakeholders to be their potential buyers. It is just unreasonable for modern businesspeople to search for alternatives for the already effective activity.

Another concern about soybean production and deforestation is the control by the government. In “Soy Moratorium Impacts on Soybean and Deforestation Dynamics in Mato Grosso, Brazil” by Jude H. Kastens, J. Christopher Brown, Alexandre Camargo Coutinho, Christopher R. Bishop, and Júlio César D. M. Esquerdo published April 2017 in PLOS ONE, deforestation is an outcome driven by soy production to increase the amount of cropland area.

This activity was provoked by several non-governmental organizations when citizens refused to buy soybeans but reduce the number of forests being removed. In the article “Blinding Consumers to the True Cost of Soy?” published in Forests News October 2018, Erin O’Connell investigated certification of deforestation-free product (https://forestsnews.cifor.org/58107/blinding-consumers-to-the-true-cost-of-soy?fnl=en). This study proves the possibility to change the circumstances and identify some alternatives for soybean production. Farmers offer to buy their lands to soy production, provoking an idea of reduced deforestation. Still, they can easily find new land for their business and destroy other rainforests to meet their goals.

People play a crucial role in challenging the environment and the land where they have to live. To create opportunities, they may neglect nature and universal rights without thinking about consequences. The benefits of soy production, like an effective feed for animals and humans, create the need to clean and burn large areas. Instead of new methods to cultivate soybeans, traders and farmers do not plan to end deforestation, believing that the representatives of the cattle industry have to take responsibilities because they receive enough soybeans for nutrition.

In addition, in their attempts to offer deforestation-free soy, many supermarkets and their suppliers promise to control forest elimination, but only a few stakeholders demonstrate considerable shifts. Even after recognizing the problem of deforestation because of soy production, not many people, including successful farmers, sellers, and managers, are ready to take serious steps and change the situation.

In their intentions to solve the crisis of deforestation, many environmentalists offer specific ideas. In the Jane Byrne’s article “New Report Documents Soy-Linked Deforestation in Argentina and Paraguay” that was posed in Feed Navigator in 2018, deforestation is introduced as a complex problem that is based on multi-stakeholder efforts and the necessity to promote new production on the already cleared land (https://www.feednavigator.com/Article/2018/03/28/New-report-documents-soy-linked-deforestation-in-Argentina-and-Paraguay). The SoyM and deforestation-free soya production are good ideas for several Brazilian regions.

Current legal documentation does make the population re-consider their attitudes towards soy production or search for other options to continue their business. Farmers and land-owners sell the already cleaned and forest-free property. There are no guarantees that a property seller of soy land will find another area for such business, and the promotion of deforestation becomes an indirect outcome of soybeans production.

Despite numerous attempts to find a solution and stop destroying forests, new steps are expected to reach consensus between forest reservation and soybean production. As one of the possible improvements, the idea to focus on yield increase rather than land expansion is offered. Soy has already displaced the cattle industry, and its production is organized in different regions. People must stop using new land for soybean cultivation to avoid dangerous ecosystem outcomes.

The discussion of economic and environmental changes within the regions where soybean production is increased has to be promoted. Society must understand their direct and indirect roles in deforestation and introduce new standards for appropriate and unacceptable numbers for soy production. The creation of new movements is a step forward for society to identify the threats associated with soy and deforestation.

It is possible to stop using new land for soy production and take the already deforested areas. Many questions remain open like who deforested the chosen land, or why these doers moved. New land can hardly be protected against deforestation, and even if soy production is not the direct cause of this process, it may become in several years. To solve the problem of deforestation because of soybeans, people have never to stop talking about it and contribute to open discussions, statistical and illustrative reports, or public questionnaires.

To conclude, it is hard to deny the connection between two crucial processes like deforestation and soybean production. Soy has already become one of the leading crops in the United States. It is used in the food industry for humans or for animals.

The solution to stop producing soy can never be made. It is important to analyze this issue, discover new opportunities, and understand possible contributions. In the paper, two approaches to reduce deforestation volumes because of soybeans are offered: to reconsider the process of soy production by focusing on its quality but not on new land and to promote the creation of specific organizations to raise deforestation-soybean relationships as a public or even national problem.

Works Cited

Byrne, Jane. “,” Feed Navigator 2018. Web.

Kastens, Jude H., et al. “Soy Moratorium Impacts on Soybean and Deforestation Dynamics in Mato Grosso, Brazil,” PLOS ONE 2017, Vol. 12, No. 4: 1-21.

O’Connell, Erin. “” Forests News. 2018. Web.

“Soybeans,” Union of Concerned Scientists. Web.

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