Soy is one of the most important agricultural commodities in the world, used mainly for animal feed fulfilling the meat demands in the world (70%), for biodiesel and for various food products. Soy bean cultivation is alarmingly increasing in South America. This has, in the last 15 years, led to monocultures at the expense of key ecosystems like the Atlantic and the Amazon forests, wetlands and grasslands and of areas that were previously used for other purposes such as livestock.
Whilst Wetlands International recognises the values of soy, we believe soy cannot continue to expand unchecked and it is necessary that responsible soy production becomes the common rule, not the exception. Wetlands International therefore works to green the soy industry in South America, for the safeguarding of wetlands and other ecosystems for people and nature.
Impacts of soy on wetlands
In Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, soy expansion results in wetland loss and degradation. Various wetlands of high conservation status are being affected for this expansion.
This causes the direct loss of biodiversity, but also the loss of key services that these ecosystems provide. Examples of such services include ecological connectivity, the presence of potable water for human consumption, the storage of organic soil carbon, forage production for livestock, and providing sources of income for local people.
Furthermore, the application of agrochemicals for soy cultivation in key wetland areas results in water pollution with serious consequences for biodiversity and aquatic life. Also, human health is threatened in some places.
Read more about:
How are wetlands impacted by soy?
The case of Argentina
What can we do about it?
What is Wetlands International doing about it?
Our Recommendations for the different players