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Subsidize Biofuels, Destroy the Rainforest

Not much comment necessary for the following, except to say that I don't think one should be able to call this an unintended consequence of US biofuel and corn subsidies when 1) the results are utterly predictable and 2) folks like myself publicly predicted it.

The US is the world's leading producer of soy, but many American soy farmers are shifting to corn to qualify for the government subsidies. Since 2006, US corn production rose 19% while soy farming fell by 15%.

The drop-off in US soy has helped to drive a major increase in global soy prices, which have nearly doubled in the last 14 months. In Brazil, the world's second-largest soy producer, high soy prices are having a serious impact on the Amazon rainforest and tropical savannas.

"Amazon fires and forest destruction have spiked over the last several months, especially in the main soy-producing states in Brazil," said Laurance. "Just about everyone there attributes this to rising soy and beef prices."

High soy prices affect the Amazon in several ways. Some forests are cleared for soy farms. Farmers also buy and convert many cattle ranches into soy farms, effectively pushing the ranchers further into the Amazonian frontier. Finally, wealthy soy farmers are lobbying for major new Amazon highways to transport their soybeans to market, and this is increasing access to forests for loggers and land speculators.

Posted on January 8, 2008 at 02:58 PM | Permalink


Whodya thunk it. Can't even attribute it to the law of unintended consequences since even the brainless Scarecrow could have predicted it.

This brings me to mind that the first time got mad at Dubya was way back when he implemented that short-term tariff on steel to "protect" our industry. That was so contrary to free-market principles, and worse, it was blatantly political.

Posted by: Andy | Jan 8, 2008 4:06:14 PM

I would have probably blamed the guy that, actually, you know, burned down the forest.

Or, maybe, I would have looked at Brazil's New Soy to Biodiesel program.

Dang, I'm dum.

Posted by: Rufus | Jan 9, 2008 5:16:03 PM

Of course, it would be more concerning if the rain forests Weren't "Expanding."


Posted by: Rufus | Jan 9, 2008 6:59:06 PM

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