Soybean Trade: Balancing Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts of an Intercontinental Market

PLoS One. 2016 May 31;11(5):e0155222. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155222. eCollection 2016.


The trade in soybean, an important animal feed product, exemplifies the environmental and socio-economic impact of global markets and global agricultural policy. This paper analyses the impact of increasing production of soybean in the exporting countries (deforestation and grassland conversion) as well as in importing regions (decrease in permanent grassland by substitution of grass as feed). Ecosystem services monetary values were used to calculate the environmental and socio-economic impact of observed land use changes. This is balanced against the economic value of the global soybean trade. The results prove that consumption choices in one region have real effects on the supply of ecosystem services at a large spatial scale. Conclusively, solutions to make this global market more sustainable are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / economics*
  • Agriculture / methods
  • Animals
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / economics*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods
  • Ecosystem*
  • Environment*
  • Europe
  • Grassland
  • Humans
  • Livestock
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Soybeans*

Grant support

The authors have no support or funding to report.