Study: Demand for Vegan Soy Driving Climate Change, Brazilian Habitat Destruction

Argentinian Soya Field.
Argentinian Soya Field. By User:Alfonso”Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Next time a Vegan gives you a hard time about eating meat, you might want to show them this article.

China and EU appetite for soy drives Brazilian deforestation, climate change: Study

by Chris Arsenault on 23 June 2020

  • A recent study highlights how demand for Brazilian soy by Europe and China is stoking deforestation, thereby increasing carbon emissions, especially in Brazil’s Cerrado savanna biome, followed by the Amazon rainforest.
  • The extent to which Brazilian soy production and trade contribute to climate change depends largely on the location where soybeans are grown. Soy exported from some municipalities in Brazil’s Cerrado, for example, contributes 200 times more total greenhouse gas emissions than soy coming from other parts of the country.
  • China was the world’s largest importer of Brazilian soy from 2010 to 2015 and responsible for 51% of associated carbon dioxide emissions, with the European Union responsible for about 30%. However, EU soy imports (sourced from the northern Cerrado) were linked to more recent deforestation than China’s imports.
  • The study is the first to offer an estimate of carbon emissions across Brazil’s entire soy sector. The data obtained by analyzing 90,000 supply chain streams could help policymakers curb emissions by designing low-carbon supply chains, with more effective forest conservation, and making improvements in transport infrastructure.

A first ever study has provided detailed estimates of greenhouse gas emissions across the entire soy producing agribusiness sector in Brazil. The study, published in the journal Global Environmental Change, found that countries and companies in the European Union and China importing soy from Brazil have driven deforestation there, causing a marked increase in greenhouse gas emissions, particularly when the soy came from certain regions.

While deforestation in the Amazon rainforest has garnered global attention, a new wave of precipitous native vegetation loss is being seen in the Cerrado, Brazil’s savanna biome, and is a major cause of concern to climate change researchers. Brazil’s Cerrado grasslands are being cleared of forest at an alarming rate to expand soy plantations — along with ranches — to meet global demand.

In fact, soy exported from newly cleared lands in some savanna municipalities caused the release of as much as 200 times more greenhouse gas emissions than soy coming from other parts of Brazil, according to the new study, which was conducted by researchers from Germany, together with partners from Spain, Belgium and Sweden.

“This gives crucial information to stakeholders to improve environmental performance,” Escobar added in an interview with Mongabay. Companies importing Cerrado soy now have been alerted that deforestation there is producing high greenhouse gas emissions, so they can work actively with soy producers to avoid clearing new land for Cerrado plantations, she said.

Read more: https://news.mongabay.com/2020/06/china-and-eu-appetite-for-soy-drives-brazilian-deforestation-climate-change-study/

The abstract of the study;

Spatially-explicit footprints of agricultural commodities: Mapping carbon emissions embodied in Brazil’s soy exports

Author links open overlay panelNeusEscobarabE. JorgeTizadocErasmus K.H.J.zu ErmgassendePernillaLöfgrenfJanBörnerabJavierGodarf

Reliable estimates of carbon and other environmental footprints of agricultural commodities require capturing a large diversity of conditions along global supply chains. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) faces limitations when it comes to addressing spatial and temporal variability in production, transportation and manufacturing systems. We present a bottom-up approach for quantifying the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions embedded in the production and trade of agricultural products with a high spatial resolution, by means of the integration of LCA principles with enhanced physical trade flow analysis. Our approach estimates the carbon footprint (as tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents per tonne of product) of Brazilian soy exports over the period 2010–2015 based on ~90,000 individual traded flows of beans, oil and protein cake identified from the municipality of origin through international markets. Soy is the most traded agricultural commodity in the world and the main agricultural export crop in Brazil, where it is associated with significant environmental impacts. We detect an extremely large spatial variability in carbon emissions across sourcing areas, countries of import, and sub-stages throughout the supply chain. The largest carbon footprints are associated with municipalities across the MATOPIBA states and Pará, where soy is directly linked to natural vegetation loss. Importing soy from the aforementioned states entailed up to six times greater emissions per unit of product than the Brazilian average (0.69 t t−1). The European Union (EU) had the largest carbon footprint (0.77 t t−1) due to a larger share of emissions from embodied deforestation than for instance in China (0.67 t t−1), the largest soy importer. Total GHG emissions from Brazilian soy exports in 2010–2015 are estimated at 223.46 Mt, of which more than half were imported by China although the EU imported greater emissions from deforestation in absolute terms. Our approach contributes data for enhanced environmental stewardship across supply chains at the local, regional, national and international scales, while informing the debate on global responsibility for the impacts of agricultural production and trade.

Trendy vegan high tech latte sipping eco-warriors are running up quite a rap sheet of climate crimes.

Their bitcoin exchanges gratuitously burn enough electricity to power a small country. Their demand for electric cars is driving child slavery in central Africa. Demand for chocolate is driving deforestation, civilian atrocities and war crimes in West Africa. Demand for palm oil biofuel is driving deforestation and habitat destruction in Asia, not to mention that time green policies triggered widespread famine in poor countries.

Now we learn that demand for Vegan soy products is driving deforestation and habitat destruction in South America.

Yet they have the effrontery to call us climate criminals.

61 thoughts on “Study: Demand for Vegan Soy Driving Climate Change, Brazilian Habitat Destruction

      • Joel O’Bryan June 24, 2020 at 9:52 am
        Why are you YELLING at us?

        Sorry Joel
        It wasn’t on purpose.

        Note to moderator: If I do this again please do not approve. Thanks.

    • I wonder how much demand for drugs is driving “climate” warming? It’s interesting that they don’t call for a ban on cannabis, on ecological grounds. Oh, they want that.

  1. The Green blight, now the Vegan blight. Destroying trees and habitats, statues and history, babies and life, a wicked progression.

    • “Trendy vegan high tech latte sipping eco-warriors…”

      You realize Eric is dog-whistling you right? Beef farming is a bigger problem by several orders of magnitude. So if you are genuinely looking for solutions then consider meat-eating blight first.

      • Once again you miss the point.

        Beef farmers are not trying to save the world and pushing ‘you must eat beef or you are a climate denying murderer of future generations’.

        Trendy vegan high tech latte sipping eco-warriors would have us believe that there ‘solution’ will save the world.

        Btw, beef farming is not a problem looking for a solution, unless you have definitive proof that it is.

      • Loydo seems to miss if all the beef eaters became vegans then the problem gets to exactly the same size …. she is practicing the fine art of obfuscation.

        If you want to argue that sort of thing Loydo you need to convert it into some sort of per head metric. Damage per head of beef eaters vs damage per head vegans then we can see what would really happen if all the beef eaters became vegans. I also have a suspicion there isn’t enough vegan supply to be able to do that so you might want to check the vegan damage at the current level versus high levels of population.

        • In my Admittedly limited experience arable farming requires soil capable of growing crops and meat production just requires summer grass either eaten at the time or conserved as hay or silage. Stored grass can be supplemented if required. But global warming should mean a reduction in the amount of winter feed needed. On the other hand slash and burn crop farming usually depletes the soil relatively quickly.

      • Not in the UK. Almost all our beef is British or Irish, almost all of it is grass fed, same for milk cows too. Yet we have as much forest in Britain as in 1340. Beef is not a problem for us, at all.

        • Am I to assume you don’t count Moonbat as one of us? He thinks sheep and cows are doing the work of Satan on the British/ Welsh landscape

        • ‘…we have as much forest in Britain as in 1340.’

          I don’t think so. Much of what appears on maps as ‘forest’ has had little tree cover since the pine trees were cut down to provide masts for the Royal Navy.

  2. … soy exported from newly cleared lands in some savanna municipalities caused the release of as much as 200 times more greenhouse gas emissions than soy coming from…

    Two hundred times nearly nothing is still nearly nothing. Well really, what’s the percentage of Greenhouse gas from Brazil’s soy fields as part of world wide emissions? Besides that are they talking CO2, CH4 or what? They don’t say. Furthermore, anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions aren’t a problem.

    • To get that Soy they destroyed thousands of acres of land that was absorbing 200 times as much CO2 and burned the trees releasing even more CO2.

      Like Burning wood in a furnace, which releases twice as much CO2 as burning Coal to make electricity. Burning the trees also eliminates the trees that were absorbing CO2, dropping leaves and branches and twigs, then dying all placing Carbon from CO2 into the soil which stays there for eons and makes good, fertile soil.

  3. This was never real science.

    Just computer games.

    Wild guesses of the future climate, always wrong, and always grossly over estimating global warming, are a bogeyman to scare people.

    A fake crisis to enable a more powerful government run by socialists, who use crises to gain power.

    With real science, predictions of the future climate would be getting more accurate over time — but with junk science, the computer games are reprogrammed to predict even more warming!

    We’ve had about 325 years of global warming since the late 1690s — no one was harmed.

    Alaska has warmer winter nights.

    That’s an existential crisis ?

    • Yep. In fact, is there anything in the above article that could not have been generated by a random climate crisis article generator ?? “Spatially-explicit” was my first clue …….

  4. The European Union (EU) had the largest carbon footprint (0.77 t t−1) due to a larger share of emissions from embodied deforestation than for instance in China (0.67 t t−1), the largest soy importer.

    The last numbers I saw showed no substantial increase in soy import into the EU over the last decade and the regions where the soy was grown where already agriculture for decades.

    I really wonder where this sudden deforestation should arise from.

    China instead has drastically increased their soy import since the 90’s mainly for pig mast.

    • China has also recently dropped US sources of soy production and switched to Brazil, because trade war, soon to be hot war.

      • Uhm… no. In the 2 weeks preceding May 11, 2020, China purchased a million metric tons of US soybeans. In March 2020, China purchased 750,000 metric tons of American corn, 1 million metric tons of sorghum, and 340,000 metric tons of wheat.

        Will the communist Chinese government meet the requirements of their Phase 1 trade agreement with the USA? Time will tell, but we know the communist Chinese government is not trust worthy…

  5. Dear Mr. Worrall,

    I don’t really believe the vegans are coming for you. So just enjoy your steak, burger, whatever.

    Sincerely,
    Al

  6. The Brazil soy is pig and chicken feed mainly. Human soy consumption is almost negligible, greens or no greens.

    • You have to differ:

      Soy oil extracted from this soy before fed to pigs and chicken is ten times as worth as the leftovers and the demand for oil is accelerating.

      For the farmers it is a win-win because somebody is buying the for humans non-digestible part for increasing prizes caused by mast demands in China.

    • Alexander…
      As has been pointed out, you are dead wrong. Soy is the world’s largest oilseed crop. Edible oil is the PRIMARY driver of the soy industry. You cannot pretend that the by-product is the reason why soy is grown.

  7. I certainly do not accept the great global warming scam but I do not understand this article. Presumably soya grows by converting carbon dioxide in starch and sugars etc. so why does the growing of soya represent a major source of emissions? What’s the mass balance between absorption of CO2 and the release of CO2? Most mature forests are in equilibrium with respect to growth decay and CO2. I grant it is not environmentally friendly to replace mature forests with soya beans but where’s the source of new CO2?

    Tony Berry

    • The article is about organic soy, not regular soy. The increased CO2 release may have to do with greater land requirements for organic farming; it taking about 40% more for so-called organic products than that produced by modern farming methods. Hence, 40% more deforestation (burning).

  8. Doesn’t anybody question the sentence:

    “ grasslands are being cleared of forest at an alarming rate”

    ????

    Best,
    Willem

    • My eyes were already glazed over by the random climate crisis article generator so no, I didn’t catch that one.

    • “Deforestation” is an alarmist buzzword. By definition, savannah is an open woodland with a grassy understory.

      Note that this does not mean that clearing – including the clearing of native grasses – and ploughing do not oxidise a very high proportion of soil-carbon. There is more carbon in the ground that sitting on top of it in the form of trees. This is why ploughing for crops releases more CO2 than zero-till “chemical” farming, and perennial pasture grazed by livestock are one of the best CO2 sinks of all.

      If CO2 matters…

  9. very first bullet above -DEFORESTATION “* A recent study highlights how demand for Brazilian soy by Europe and China is stoking deforestation, thereby increasing carbon emissions, especially in Brazil’s Cerrado savanna biome, followed by the Amazon rainforest.”

  10. … in the Cerrado, Brazil’s savanna biome, … grasslands are being cleared of forest at an alarming rate …

    How do you clear grasslands of forest? Have we redefined forest? Or grasslands?

    The Cerrado has been home to humanity for at least 6,000 years. Those folks routinely burned the landscape and thereby created the savanna/grasslands. The savanna/grasslands are anthropogenic. People did it. Ancient inhabitants rather than modern inhabitants, but what’s the difference?

    And what business is it of non-inhabitant EU elitist Socialists that live on the other side of the planet? Maybe they should tend to their own landscapes where they live instead of engaging in post-colonial neck kneeling on little brown people thousands of miles away.

    And by the way, the Cerrado is in the tropics and has one of the warmest/hottest climates on Earth. And guess what? Soy beans grow great there. So does corn (maize). Record-setting bumper crops of food grow in the warmest climate on Mother Earth.

    Doesn’t that just blow your EU mind? Kablooee!!! Holy Cow, Batman! Warmer is Better for agriculture? Whoda thunkit? Better crouch behind the barricade and take some more medicine before the rest of the world figures out you’re full of …

    • Bravo Mike, exactly right about EU eco-socialists imposing their neo-colonist green agenda on people in other continents and telling them what is good or not good. A similar story with truly vile NGOs telling us that farmers in the third world need no GM crops and can make do with bicycles and poxy solar battery lighting instead of tractors and mains electricity.

  11. Classic 😂 from un-recyclable wind turbines and solar panels, and now green food is destroying the planet lolol

  12. A first ever study ….

    Searching for some BS and publishing a first paper about, the new way of science 😀
    The only new is, an official study that Greens and Vegans destroy the earth and the climate.
    LOL 😀

  13. How does the statement:

    Now we learn that demand for Vegan soy products is driving deforestation and habitat destruction in South America

    tell us more than:

    Now we learn that demand for soy products is driving deforestation and habitat destruction in South America

    Especially as some of that soy product goes to feed the cattle that provide me with full-fat cow’s-milk latte that I occasionally treat myself with (regarding soybeans as a global commodity and not just a Brazilian product).

    Eric’s just using “vegan” as a way to get our outrage flowing before we’ve read the article. Not necessary

    • Without the human demand for soy – which is the largest source of edible seed oils in the world – there would be no by-product to feed stock.

      It is humans and human dietary choices that are driving the expansion of the soy industry and pretending that animals eating what we leave behind has equal responsibility is dishonest.

      • PeteW, the deamnd for soy is very much driven by animal feed demand. The fact that the oil is also usable in human supply chains means that many farmers can hedge their bets in terms of returns, and indeed many are turning to soy instead of other oilseeds. Besides this, there is no way that vegans, who make up at most 2% of the population, could have this much effect. Soy oil is used for a very wide range of applications, not just as food. Soy oil is increasingly the oil of choice in commercial cooking (think Maccas) so the demand for meat products at this point in the chain is probably also driving increased demand. So yes, about 90% or more of all soy grown provides oil, but is its use for soy meal that is the primary driver. Without that there’d be other options for human use, including just using less of it. The proportion of soy grown just for vegans’ tofu and milk would be tiny globally.

  14. When environmentalists destroy the environment, kill endangered species or destroy rain forests, they always get a pass. Nothing is more environmentally unfriendly that an environmentalist with a mission.The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    • Yep it’s the law of unintended consequences a bit like the bushfires in the east coast of Australia did to many endangered species habitat and state and national parks. I think it is called lack of perspective that every solution brings a new set of problems.

  15. Yet another almost entirely bogus “carbon footprint” study based on the imaginary numbers assigned to “supply chains”.

  16. Brazil is a sovereign nation. Their government and people can farm land as they see fit.
    CO2 is plant food. Feed the plants!

  17. Incredible how we (EU) are always the bad guys.

    The EU purchased 11.57 million tons of soybean meal between the start of the marketing year on July 1, 2019, and February 23 2020, out of which Brazil’s share was 46.4%, according to the European Commission.

    That’s 5.36 mt of soy imported to the EU from Brazil.

    Brazil exports of soy were 74.59 mt in 2019.

    So the EU makes up around 7% of Brazil’s exports of soy.

    China accounts for around 80% of Brazils exports of soy.

    ….but it’s the EU that’s killing polar bears………. right, that all seems perfectly reasonable.

  18. “Deforestation” is an alarmist buzzword. By definition, savannah is an open woodland with a grassy understory.

    Note that this does not mean that clearing – including the clearing of native grasses – and ploughing do not oxidise a very high proportion of soil-carbon. There is more carbon in the ground that sitting on top of it in the form of trees. This is why ploughing for crops releases more CO2 than zero-till “chemical” farming, and perennial pasture grazed by livestock are one of the best CO2 sinks of all.

    If CO2 matters…

  19. The study, published in the journal Global Environmental Change, found that countries and companies in the European Union and China importing soy from Brazil have driven deforestation there, causing a marked increase in greenhouse gas emissions, particularly when the soy came from certain regions.

    The arguments and commercial push for “plant-based” products, plastics, fuel and fillers is, on its face, an argument for agricultural strain and stress on one single resource.

    Think of it as the Malthus prediction fulfilled — but only if the legitimate plastics, fabrics, fuels and animal products are slowly outlawed at the same time.

    The “plant-based” label is a vague term, and it usually turns out to be referring to soy, without having to mention soy.

    And soy is a chelate, with enough phytic acid to bind with zinc and iron in the diet and create a deficiency.

    The zinc deficiency in particular disrupts many major biological functions.

  20. Plus, beef tastes better. Way more biodiversity on a cattle ranch than you ever see on a corp mono-cult. Fewer herba and pesta cides 2…more bugs, and birds, and bees, and coyotes, and wabbits, and hawks…there were plants and birds and rocks and things…

  21. https://en.wikipaedia.org/wiki/International_wheat_production_statistics This gives total wheat production as about 771 million tonnes.

    https://www.soymeal.org/soy-meal-articles/world-soybean-production/ gives total soy production as about 347 million tonnes.

    Yet the abstract says; “Soy is the most traded agricultural commodity in the world … ”

    I grant that some wheat may not be traded, but can farmers eat enough of the wheat they produce to reduce the traded quantity to less than the traded quantity of soy?

    Rather fishy, I think.

  22. “Demand for palm oil biofuel is driving deforestation and habitat destruction in Asia,”

    Bio-ethanol production in France is also destroying habitats, large areas cleared for growing maize and sunflowers, kilometers of hedges removed and trees felled, not to mention woods cleared for windturbines.

    • Ben Vorlich, are you sure about that?

      Surface area for both Maize and Sunflower are down on what they were in the late 80’s-90’s, but interestingly the SP95-E10 (Ethanol 10%) is becoming, if it isn’t already, the N°1 petrol.

      In 1950 France had about 11 million hectares of forest.
      By 2009 France had added another 5.3 million to that, bringing the total to about 16-17 million hectares.
      That’s a third of the country covered in tree’s.

      I would think that putting a wind turbine in place of a forest or wood, would be a rare exception rather than the norm.

Comments are closed.