Wednesday, May 25, 2011

High food prices = Brazil deforestation

No surprise there, but the connection is being made quite directly here, as new laws are allowing increased deforestation in order to expand agricultural production. A coalition of farmers argues that "None of the world's large farm producers that compete with Brazil - the United States, Europe, China, Argentina and Australia - obliges its producers to preserve any forest." Can't argue with that!
One antidote is to increase agricultural productivity, but that seems to be tailing off. Just two years after the Bank's World Development Report 2008 featured the continued importance of agriculture in helping countries develop, a new World Bank book has appeared apparently arguing that the most trodden path out of poverty in India, at least, is away from agriculture and toward nonfarm development. So is agriculture no longer the investment of choice for the Bank and other organizations who want to improve the lives of the poor? Are we happy with a level of agricultural productivity that precipitates deforestation? Tough questions!

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