The Stream, November 25: The Sustainability of South American Megafarms

Huge soybean farms in Brazil’s Mato Grosso state are very efficient at keeping nutrient pollutants like phosphorus out of nearby waterways, but it is unclear if the more intensive form of farming will slow down deforestation in the Amazon, according to an editorial published in The New York Times. Brown University professor Stephen Porder argues that big farms should not automatically be written off as unsustainable as the world searches for ways to feed a growing population.

Hundreds of thousands of hectares leased by the Ethiopian government to foreign agriculture investors are sitting idle, Bloomberg News reported. Poor irrigation infrastructure has contributed to the slow development of some leased properties, while other properties lie in flood plains that are inundated for much of the year.

United Kingdom
The UK’s economy may have lost as much as $US 970 million during floods last year that damaged businesses and disrupted transportation networks, the Guardian reported, citing the government Environment Agency. With many businesses facing increased flood risks, the private sector is beginning to invest in public flood defenses that do not receive enough government funding.

New laws that allow private water license holders to sell extraction rights to water companies could allow 50 billion more liters of water to be extracted from the UK’s rivers and streams each day, the Guardian reported. Conservationists worry that unsustainable water withdrawals will damage unique habitats, such as chalk streams, that support some of the country’s iconic species.

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