NATURE | CORRESPONDENCEprevious abstract next abstract
Brazilian soya: the argument against
Nature 474, 285 (16 June 2011) doi:10.1038/474285b
Published online 15 June 2011
rights and permissions
Rachael Garrett's arguments for a market-based approach to Amazon conservation (see Nature doi:10.1038/474285a; 2011) hinge on the assumption that the expansion of agro-industrial development in Amazonia is inevitable. Using market mechanisms to solve environmental problems is questionable when those problems are themselves caused by market-driven expansion.
It is the relatively small soya-production area of Brazil's Santarém region that makes it an important case study. If voluntary market-based conservation programmes do not work even on a small scale, what are the chances of success for larger-scale programmes such as the Round Table on Responsible Soy (see http://go.nature.com/jc6ua1), hailed as the way to mitigate problems created by agro-industry?
Conservation organizations must face up to the social consequences of their programmes. The Santarém case shows that exclusively addressing environmental aspects of a complex problem exacerbates socio-political issues. The social unrest there correlates with environmental degradation in the region (C. S. Simmons et al. Ann. Assoc. Am. Geogr. 97, 567–592; 2007).
Amazonian deforestation has accelerated and extraction of its resources have continued under the market-based conservation paradigm. It is time for a radical rethink of the development model.