Influence of GM Soy Expansion on the Argentinian Food and Nutrition Security

Cesare Zanasi, Cosimo Rota, Claudia Severi, Anna Demadonna


The rapid expansion of Argentinian soy production, led by the increase in the international soy demand for food feed and biofuel production, deeply influenced the entire Argentinian society economy and environment. Genetically modified soy has become a strategic product for the Latin American country, strongly supporting the entire economy and the welfare state thanks to the income derived from soy production and export taxations. The influence of the GM soy production strongly modified in particular the economic, and social structure of the rural areas creating new supply chain agents and making the “contract agriculture” the dominant model. Among the many consequences of this rapid expansion of the soy supply it is increasingly argued that the Argentinian Food and nutrition security can be affected, in particular the access to cheap and good quality beef. The Argentinian ban on beef export reflects the attempt to support the internal supply of beef, thus guaranteeing a low price for the consumers. One of the main factors influencing the reduction of beef supply, however, is its substitution with the more profitable GM soy.
The goal of this paper is to analyse the joint effects of the GM soy production in Argentina and of the change in the country price and income levels, on the Food and Nutrition Security for the Argentinian population, considering three different categories of food: vegetables, animal origin products and, within this category, beef.
A Structural Equation Model (SEM) was adopted, where food consumption (calories from animal and vegetal origin food plus calories form beef) have been related to the food prices indexes, the income pro-capita and the expansion of soy cultivated areas.
The statistical analysis showed that the present model of agricultural production, based on export- oriented GM soy production is affecting negatively food security, in particular the consumption of beef, one of the staple food in Argentinian diet. A substitution effect where beef is substituted with vegetable and other animal origin products emerged as a possible explanation of the results obtained in the three different models.
Further study should better examine these substitution effects and how the overall diet composition changed in quality as well as quantity and how much the change in Food and nutrition security affected the different ranks of the Argentinean population.
The present study represents a first, relatively simple approach to understanding the complex dynamics affecting the local as well as global consequences of a very fast and still growing expansion of the soy cultivation in Argentina. Considering its strategic role in the country present uncertain economic situation, further analysis should better focus on adopting more complex methods of analysis where the Argentinian institutional, economic and social context should be taken into consideration.

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ISSN 2194-511X


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