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Soy trade war could destroy millions hectares of rainforest

Study suggests Brazil likely to rush to fill China’s sudden soy shortfall by boosting farming

The Amazon rainforest could be the greatest casualty of the trade war between the United States and China, warns a new study showing how deforestation pressures have surged as a result of the geopolitical jolt in global soy markets.

The authors warn this could push deforestation of the Amazon beyond even the worst levels of 3m hectares a year recorded between 1995 and 2004, with dire implications for carbon dioxide emissions. null

Regulatory barriers to deforestation are already under pressure. Much of the remaining Amazon forest is designated as nature reserves, indigenous territory or the homes of quilombolas and extractivist forest dwellers. In recent years, however, the strong “ruralista” agriculture lobby in Brazil has pushed for a weakening of protections.

The government of Jair Bolsonaro has further diluted the powers of the environment agency and pushed for the expansion of agricultural interests. Rising soy prices have also sent a signal to farmers to cash in by expanding their cropland.

Brazil is already moving to take advantage of the trade war. At the end of last year, 75% of China’s soya bean imports came from Brazil, which was a new record and a sign that the entire US shortfall was substituted with Brazilian soya beans, according to the paper. The stock index of the country’s 52 biggest companies has risen faster than any other market in the region.

Taken from The Guardian.