Corn Commentary

Agriculture’s Role in Deforestation Minimal

A recent initiative in one of South America’s largest agricultural areas shows deforestation is not being driven by expanding soybean acres. The findings of the GTS Soy Work Group show that less than ¼ of 1 percent of land use change over the 3 year time frame studied was due to additional soybean acres.

From a corn grower perspective the GTS info is more than a little interesting because ethanol critics often argue increased ethanol production drives demand for U.S. corn, reduces U.S. soybean acres, and thus opens the door for more soybean acres – and more deforestation – in South America.

The tactic has always been a bit suspect because the vast majority of new corn demand is being filled through burgeoning yields on existing U.S. acres. Even more interesting is this convoluted logic is now being drawn into serious doubt by an effort that uses real-world data rather than speculation and hyperbole.

The industry-led project in the Brazilian Amazon, now in its third years shows land clearing for cattle remains a much bigger contributor to than diversion than expanding soy production.

GTS, a coalition that includes their Ministry of the Environment, NGOs, exporters and civil society organizations, uses a combination of state of the art satellite technology and on-the-ground shoe leather assessment to gauge deforestation and any relationship to crops, specifically soy planting.

A company called Globalsat conducted flyovers and field visits in Brazil’s Mato Grosso, Para, and Rondonia part of the Amazon Biome and the virtual epicenter of Brazilian soybean production.

Ethanol bashers seem to be remarkably mum on this revelation. Hmmm