Problems of Sojization and national sovereignty

Problems of Sojization and national sovereignty

By Alberto J. Lapolla

We have called Sojization the process of excessive and uncontrolled expansion of the monoculture of transgenic forage soybeans, known as RR soybeans. This system involves a technological package consisting of the repeated application of the herbicide glyphosate –and others-, the sowing of transgenic RR soybean seed, through the No-till Sowing system called Direct Sowing.

Argentina Sojizada

We have called Sojization the process of excessive and uncontrolled expansion of the monoculture of transgenic forage soybeans, known as RR soybeans. This system involves a technological package consisting of the repeated application of the herbicide glyphosate –and others-, the sowing of transgenic RR soybean seed, through the No-till Sowing system called Direct Sowing.

The expansion of this farming system, beyond any ecological, environmental, agronomic, public health, social or macroeconomic consideration, is the process that we have come to call Sojization to characterize a radical change of the national agroecosystem and therefore of all our agricultural system. The cultivation of transgenic forage soy already occupies more than 50.% of the grain production and 55% of the cultivated agricultural area. But if we really consider the original agricultural area of ​​this process, back in 1995, the expansion is much greater. The area sown today with RR soybeans, exceeds the entire area planted in 1995. This implies that to reach the current 35 million hectares, a huge amount of land historically destined for livestock, dairy, and agriculture had to be occupied. fruit forests, horticulture, virgin forests, beekeeping, family production, and other crops that were displaced by soybeans such as sunflower, corn, sweet potato and cotton.

The soybean surface grows year by year at the expense of other productions. Thus, in 2004, the total agricultural area was 27 million hectares, while today we already exceed 35 million hectares, a figure equivalent to 12.5% ​​of the country's surface. The multinational soybean pool that controls and dominates the ‘business’, estimates that by the year 2017 the figure of the Argentine agricultural area should border 120 million hectares. Something like 43% of the national surface, a true environmental and agronomic nonsense. The rampant Sojization of the nation, far from being a healthy fact, constitutes a real problem in expansion for the national economy and the protection of our agricultural ecosystem. But it is also true for the very life of our inhabitants. This fact has been correctly pointed out several times by the President of the Nation since the approval of resolution 125, which had the commendable objective of putting a stop to this expansion.

Only 19 nations in the world allow the cultivation of transgenic varieties - that is, genetically modified (GMO) - freely and only 5 allow it on a large scale, Argentina is one of them, being the one that has the largest relative surface of GMOs sown openly in the world. While other countries take measures to reduce or prohibit the area planted with RR soybeans, Argentina continues to expand the soybean border without any limit or precaution. Worse still, 99% of the soy planted in our country is transgenic (soyRR). Since soybeans are a closed or self-pollinating species in a percentage of 95 to 99%, it is possible to assume that non-transgenic soybeans (the so-called organic soybeans) are very difficult to find in our territory. This fact alone would already constitute a serious problem due to the uncontrolled expansion of GMOs. The current scientific knowledge, contributed by the study of the human genome, has demolished the basic theory of transgenesis: 'a gene, a protein', plunging the scientists employed by multinationals into confusion and concealment. In fact, we do not know what effects GMOs may have on the global ecosystem and on human health, in the medium and long term. The WHO has indicated that since 1995, when transgenic crops made their entry into the market, 65% of the diseases of the world population are related to food. This fact, in itself very serious, is just the first in a long list of harmful effects that soy has had on our population.

Oh Felipe!

The multinational Monsanto completed the process of stabilizing RR soy in 1993, and in 1994 it was approved by the US food control body, opposed by the National Environmental Agency (USDA). Strong pressure from the company led the USDA to approve the release of RR soy the following year. Barely two or three years elapsed between the stabilization of RR soy and its launch into the world ecosystem, insufficient time to assess environmental effects on the global ecosystem as a whole in the short, medium and long term. It should be noted that transgenesis implies a strong alteration of the mechanisms of natural selection, with direct implications in protein biosynthesis and in issues related to the immune system and cancer. But the most serious thing that concerns us is that in that same year, 1995, the then Secretary of Agriculture of the menemato, Eng. Felipe Solá authorized the release of RR soybeans in our country, without any prior study to support said decision. From then on nothing has stopped it, producing serious environmental, social, health and structural effects.

In principle, soybean production has transformed our agricultural production into almost a monoculture, a dangerous fact from the environmental point of view and with respect to the productive structure of the nation. Any model based on monoculture is essentially unsustainable and structurally weak. However, the expansion of transgenic soy monoculture brings with it other serious problems. The most important lies in the degradation of our productive system: we have ceased to be a food-producing country, to become a forage-producing enclave, so that other nations - the most industrialized or in the process of being - produce meat. We are no longer the 'granary of the world' in this revival of the British - now Chinese - post-Pavón agro-export model, but we are producers of 'soy-grass', so that China, India and the European Union can raise subsidized - by the Argentines - their pigs, poultry and cattle. In 17 million hectares, of the best agricultural lands in the world, Argentines (that is, the 80,000 soybeans) do not produce food, we produce ‘soy pasture’ to export to China, India and the EU. In this neocolonial approach, we have reached the extreme of selling soybeans to Chile to produce poultry and pork meat and export it, while we import both products due to the drastic reduction of livestock and meat areas and stocks produced by soybean production. Despite what the defenders of the soy model point out, the export of grains, oil, cake, or other derivatives of soy is equivalent to exporting pure forage, that is, "soy grass."

‘Feed lot’ and soyization. Wholesale pollution

We have reduced our meat production -by reducing the area, the number of heads and the quality of the fields destined to it- to produce 'soy-grass', having to resort to the highly dangerous tool of the feed-lot, going on to produce Poor quality meat with a very low level of food security, in the country that once had the 'best meat in the world'. We use our best lands to produce fodder - and now also agro-fuels - so that other countries can produce and export meat, instead of us. This has an impact not only on the poor quality of what we eat, but also on the price of food as its supply is reduced due to a reduction in the area sown and the increase in the opportunity cost of its production. The increase in the price of staple foods such as vegetables, fruits, dairy products and different meat products - sheep meat went from being a cheap substitute for beef to being a luxury product - is directly related to the constant decrease of the area destined to its production, before the overwhelming advance of forage soy. The object of our agricultural production is no longer to produce food for the consumption of our population, exporting the remainder, but rather the entire agricultural system of the country is put at the service of producing 'soy pasture', for export to the countries industrialized or developing, which have national state policies.

The other extremely serious element produced by soybean production, lies in the extremely high environmental pollution produced by the system, since it is based on the massive use of pesticides -mainly herbicides- permanently. Not just glyphosate, but a long list of highly toxic products, some banned in central countries. In the last campaign, around 220 million liters of glyphosate, 23 to 29 million liters of 2-4-D, about 7 million liters of endosulfan and almost the same volume of atrazine and a smaller volume of diquat and paraquat, reaching a total of around 150 thousand tons of pesticides and 1.3 million tons of fertilizers, with cumulative and exponentially increasing effects from 1996 to date. Both 2-4-D, diquat, paraquat, endosulfan, added to glyphosate adjuncts and companions, are highly carcinogenic products. Recent studies by the French Curie Institute, carried out by Dr R. Bellé, confirm that glyphosate in its most common commercial form, the Round-up, is a trigger for cancer-forming mechanisms. (1) These days they have been made public the serious cases of the Ituzaingó Annex neighborhood in Cordoba, where the justice has prohibited the fumigations after 10 years of complaints (7). The case of Loma Sené in Formosa made us famous in the world. (8) And the thousands of cancer cases in the Pampean soybean basin, detected in a multidisciplinary study carried out in the area and which are under strong pressure for publication. ( 2) All these products, used without any control by the corresponding provincial or municipal agencies, are carcinogenic, cause allergies, malformations, skin reactions, respiratory conditions, affect pregnancies, cause spontaneous abortions and have triggered the rate of cancer in Argentina with respect to the 1995 figures. It is necessary to point out that RR soy is present as a complement in countless local foods from hamburgers, juices, sweets, cold cuts and chocolates, so the toxic effects are multiplied.

Super weeds

Another aspect of unusual environmental gravity developed by soybean treatment refers to the fact that in ecological and environmental terms, the entire Direct Sowing-RR soybean-glyphosate system is nothing more than a gigantic experiment, selecting resistant weeds and vertical and genetic contamination. irreversible horizontal lines, through transgenes and massive use of herbicides, with future effects hardly seen. There are already approximately thirty species with resistance to glyphosate. Recently, the appearance of Aleppo Sorghum has been added, which can become a serious problem. Another aspect of the problem lies in the loss of the fertility of our soils that the system implies. In addition to the absence of crop rotations and the return of the soils to pasture as a natural restoration of their fertility, and of sanitation, each harvest implies an enormous extraction of nutrients that leave with the grains and that are not replaced. To produce a ton of grain, soybean extracts 16 kg / ha of calcium, 9 kg of magnesium, 7 kg of sulfur, 8 kg of phosphorus, 33 kg of potassium, and 80 kg of nitrogen. This permanent levy directly affects the current fertility of the soil and when repeated in a continuous and prolonged cycle, it also affects their potential fertility. With the aggravating factor that chemical fertilization produces pollution, that eutrophication and contaminates the water courses and reservoirs, while the natural restoration of fertility does not produce any contamination and has much lower cost. The replacement cost of the fertilizer units exported in N, P and S from the last harvest would imply an outlay of more than 1500 million USS.

Soy destroys jobs and production

Every 500 hectares of RR soybeans a single job is generated, destroying 9 out of 10 effective jobs. The reason lies in the different Operating Time of Tillage (TOL), between the Traditional and SD systems. The TOL of the SD-soy RR system is 40 minutes / man / Ha, against 180 minutes / man / Ha of the traditional system. On the contrary, 100 hectares devoted to family farming produce 35 real jobs, without any environmental pollution. This very low labor demand explains that today rural workers barely reach 1.3 million, with the aggravating factor that only a third work in white.

Another aspect that is added to the previous one is the destruction of small production, which carries out soyization. Faced with the profit margins of RR soy and without state intervention to change the equation - the 'market' will never do it - the vegetable garden, fruit trees, beekeeping, livestock, artificial forests, dairy production are no longer viable , swine or beekeeping. Some due to competition, others simply due to proximity to flights or land applications of glyphosate, which, because it is a total herbicide, destroys all types of plantations by drift. In the same way, simply by dominating the market, small-scale livestock farming - essential to recover the economy of family scale - and the aforementioned productions are not viable. Nor is RR soy profitable for areas of less than 300, 350 and up to 500 hectares depending on the region, so small and medium farmers must rent or sell their fields. This already led to the disappearance of almost 180,000 producers between 1990 and 2002. For the same reason and due to the macro policies applied since 1976, there was an increase in the concentration of land with figures similar to those of the heyday of the conservative 'Republic' .

Between 1966 and 2002, half of the producers disappeared, going from having 650,000 to less than 330,000, with the aggravation that 49.7% of the land (half of the country's surface) belongs to 6,900 owners, and more than 40 million has (14% of the national territory), are in foreign hands including border areas, waterways and strategic areas. Another aspect that produces sojization is the ‘legal’ theft of ancestral property and the manu-militari expulsion of rural people, particularly poor peasants and communities of native peoples. Soybeanization makes it possible to produce ‘soy pasture’ in regions and places where agriculture was not possible before. Therefore, the marginal lands that were previously despised and served as shelter and food for the poorest, now have value. Beyond the serious environmental risks, which implies transferring the Pampean agricultural system to regions of enormous ecological fragility in a permanent agricultural approach, such as the NOA, or the NEA, the fact produces the perversion of expelling them from their lands to the ancestral or low-income communities, who lived in them from family production or the fruits of the forest. Expelled by any means, through the mafia conspiracy of provincial and communal governments, gangster law firms, investment funds at the service of financial capital or through the simple and expeditious system of sending the gendarmerie at night, to drive out humble and peaceful settlers, killing them. animals and throwing them on the road. In this way, new areas of ‘agribusiness’ of frightening ethics are produced. Consortiums with a dark and hidden face, seize huge tracts of land, stolen from their true owners. This illegitimate fact, which destroys rights written in the National Constitution, must be resolved in exactly the opposite way: it is necessary to repopulate the countryside and develop policies to deconcentrate the land, creating thousands of new family producers, 'our countrymen the Indians' ( 4) the first.

Finally, sojisation has devastated the native forest, until practically its total elimination. According to Eng. C. Merenson, in 1914 we had 105 million hectares of native forests, which was equivalent to more than a third of the national surface, but in 1994 only 35 million hectares remained, then between 1984 and 2002, with the expansion of RR soybeans, the forested area was reduced by another million hectares. For his part, Dr. M. Altieri, pointed out that sojisation has produced in Latin America the loss of 21 million hectares of forest, of which 14 million correspond to Argentina. To this we must add the feverish depredation produced in 2007 and 2008, since companies, fearing the approval of the Forest Law, went out to destroy what was left. In such a way we believe like Dr. Morello that ‘the native forest in Argentina is a thing of the past. Today it no longer exists' (6)

How to get out of the trap?

In conclusion, this set of factors brings about the destruction of soil fertility, eliminates bioregulation, destroys the biodiversity of our agroecosystem, and produces strong effects on flora and fauna, causing massive contamination of the soil, water courses , the water tables, the rivers and the general habitat of our inhabitants. It also brings misery, expulsion, and destruction of family production and farm workers. All this to produce wealth for a munuscular sector of the population: 80,000 soybean producers, over 330,000 agricultural producers and 40 million Argentines. Tiny sector that, together with the multinational soybean complex, is enriched at the cost of devastation and national prostration.

We believe that a National Agricultural Plan is necessary to organize a gradual exit from soybeanization, based on rural repopulation, with land delivery. With active policies to support, encourage and protect family and small production, recovering natural food production as the basis of the Argentine countryside, towards a model of rural development based on national and popular interests. We must aspire to have hundreds of thousands of new agricultural producers, who produce healthy food in quantity and quality sufficient to feed our entire population and export the remainder. In addition to applying fair withholdings, it is necessary to penalize the export of grain, oil or soybean cake, stimulating the production of meat and the addition of value, appealing to local development as a way to recover productions devastated by soybeans, stimulating all weakened productions such as livestock, dairy and horticulture. Fumigations near towns should be prohibited and excessive and unnecessary applications of herbicides and pesticides in general should be drastically reduced, generating regional purification and environmental recovery policies. This first step would force to alternate agricultural-livestock rotations and crop rotations, improving the ecological situation in general. It is necessary to reduce the area of ​​RR soybeans every year, as well as to start cleaning up areas contaminated by transgenes and bulk pesticides, while stimulating the use of non-polluting practices, especially linked to the enormous potential of agroecology and the family economy. We Argentines do not need RR soybeans for our development, its uncontrolled expansion has been an imposition of the ‘world market’, in a new stage of international division of labor that is coming to a resounding end. It is possible to recover a sovereign policy of national and agricultural development inserted, in the necessary reindustrialization of the nation, distributing the brutal concentration of wealth produced from 1976 onwards.

Alberto J. Lapolla He is an agricultural geneticist engineer. Director of the Institute of Studies and Training of the CMP. Reference of the Participative Stream Sovereignty and Liberation. A summary of this work was published by Page 12, on February 1, 2009 in Cash.


1.- Report in Ecuador to Robert Bellé, the research was published in Toxicological Sciences Nº 82, 2004,

2.- See Argentine Agrarian Federation, Weekly Report N ° 197, December 29, 2005 and Report presented by Ing. Agr. Alberto Gelín and Javier de Souza, at the 2nd Meeting ‘Soils, Foundations… organized by CTERA, ANSAFE and the PAS, in San Jenaro Norte Santa Fe 05-19-2006.

3.-Altieri Miguel (Professor of Agroecology, University of California, Berkeley) The social and ecological tragedy of the production of agricultural biofuels in America. March- 2007

4.- Phrase with which General San Martín referred to our native compatriots.

5.- Conference of Dr. Miguel Altieri in Bs. As., On 03-21-07,

6.- Conference of Dr. J. Morello in Bs. As., On 03-21-07

7.- Page 12, 12-1-09

8.- See Sue Brandford, The bitter harvest of Argentina, published by New Scientist. 04-17-04.

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