Agricultural Explosion in Brazil: Exploring the Impacts of the Brazilian Agricultural Development over the Amazon



Published Jan 15, 2009
Tiago Rodrigues


Agriculture has always been an important economic activity in Brazil and is now among the most dynamic sectors in the Brazilian economy. However, a lot of controversy has risen over the impact of such phenomenon on the Brazilian Amazon. This paper offers a critical overview of the literature on the expansion of the Brazilian agricultural frontier, demonstrating its impact on the degradation of the Amazon forest based on secondary data and institutional document sources. An overview of the historical development of the Brazilian Amazon basin is conducted by looking in a critical way at some implications of such a phenomenon. Rather then commenting on an empirical study, the objective of this paper is to present a theoretical analysis of the models of development adopted for the Amazon region in Brazil, showing the relative importance of different variables and factors to the depletion of that ecosystem. It is argued that although the figures show net benefit to the Brazilian economy, the prosperity which is advocated to be brought by the agricultural explosion favors mostly established elites and vested international interests, which have contributed to the degradation of the Amazon forest for a long time. It is suggested that the focus on Brazilian agricultural growth as the main driver of deforestation of the Amazon has omitted the historical links to the deforestation problem and the related role of effective international cooperation.

How to Cite

Rodrigues, T. 2009. Agricultural Explosion in Brazil: Exploring the Impacts of the Brazilian Agricultural Development over the Amazon . The International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food. 16, 1 (Jan. 2009), 1-12. DOI:
Abstract 37 | PDF Downloads 20


aLvEs, d.s. (2001) deforestation and frontier expansion in the Brazilian amazônia, Prepared for presentation
at the open Meeting of the global Environmental Change Research Community, Rio de Janeiro, 6–8 of oct. 2001.
BaRBosa, L.C. (1993) The world-system and the destruction of the Brazilian Rain Forest, Review, 16(2), pp. 215–240.
BaRBosa, L.C. (2000) The Brazilian Amazon Rainforest. Lanham: university Press of america.
BERTHéLoT, J. (2005) La vanité de la stratégie agro-exportatrice du Brésil pour rembourser sa dette exterieure. Published
online , accessed 18 May 2007.
BRaziL iNTERNaTioNaL TRadE (2007) Annual Report 2007. análise Editorial.
CaMPaRi, J.s. (2005) The Economics of Deforestation in the Amazon: Dispelling the Myths. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.
CaMPuzaNo, J.M. (1979) as Multinacionais na amazônia, Encontros Com a Civilização Brasileira, 11(May), pp. 21–34.
CaRvaLHo, g.o., NEPsTad, d., MCgRaTH, d., CaRMEN vERadiaz, M. dEL, saNTiLLi, M. and BaRRos, a. (2002) Frontier expansion in the amazon, Environment, 44 (3), pp. 34–45.
daMiCo, F.s. and NassaR, a.M. (2007) Brazil’s agricultural expansion and policies, in: K. aRHa, T. JosLiNg, d.a. suMNER and B.H. THoMPsoN (eds) US Agricultural Policy and the 2007 Farm Bill, stanford, Ca: Woods institute for the Environment, pp. 75–96, published online , accessed 20 May 2007.
EvaNs, P. (1979) Dependent Development. Princeton, NJ: Princeton university Press.
Fao (Food aNd agRiCuLTuRaL oRgaNizaTioN) (1961–1999) Quarterly Bulletin of Statistics. Rome: Fao.
FEaRNsidE, P.M. (1997) Environmental services as a strategy for sustainable development in rural amazonia, Ecological Economics, 20(1), pp. 53–70.
FEaRNsidE, P.M. (2001) soybean cultivation as a threat to the environment in Brazil, Environmental Conservation, 28(1), pp. 23–28.
FEaRNsidE, P.M. (2002) avança Brasil: environmental and social consequences of Brazil’s planned infrastructure in amazônia, Environmental Management, 30(6), pp. 735–747.
gREENPEaCE (2007) Porto da Cargill em Santarém é fechado pelo Ibama. Published online , accessed 25 May 2007.
HaiLa, Y. (1999) The North as/and the other: ecology, domination, solidarity, in: F. FisCHER and M. HaJER (eds) Living with Nature: Environmental Politics as Cultural Discourse, oxford: oxford university Press, pp. 42–58.
KiRBY, K., LauRaNCE, W., aLBERNaz, a., sCHRoTH, g., FEaRNsidE, P., BERgEN, s., vENTiCiNQuE, E. and CosTa, C. (2006) The future of deforestation in the Brazilian amazon, Futures, 38, pp. 432–453.
LLaNa, s.M. (2007) Brazil eyes ethanol as fast track to power, Christian Science Monitor, published online , accessed 6 June 2007.
MCMiCHaEL, P. (2000) The power of food, Agriculture and Human Values, 17, pp. 21–33.
MERTENs, B., PoCCaRd-CHaPuis, R., PiKETTYM., LaQuEs, a. and vENTuRiERi, a. (2002) Crossing spatial analyses and livestock economics to understand deforestation processes in the Brazilian amazon: the case of são Felix do Xingú in south Pará, Agricultural Economics, 27, pp. 269–294.
MiNisTéRio PúBLiCo FEdERaL (2007) Terminal graneleiro da Cargill em Santarém é embargado pelo Ibama. Published
online , accessed 25 May 2007.
MiNisTRY oF agRiCuLTuRE oF BRaziL (2007) Brazilian External Commerce. Published online , accessed 10 oct. 2007.
MouTiNHo, P. (2007) Miopia ministerial, O ECO, published online /newstorm.ns.presentation.Navigationservlet?publicationCode=6&pageCode=90&textCode=22266
&date=currentdate&contentType=html>, accessed 28 May 2007.
NEWBY, H. (1996) Citizenship in a green world: global commons and human stewardship, in: M. BuLMER and a.M. REEs (eds) Citizenship Today: The Contemporary Relevance of T. H. Marshall. London: uCL Press, pp. 209–222.
ouTLaW, J.L., RiBERa, L.a., RiCHaRdsoN, J.W., siLva, J. da, BRYaNT, H. and KLosE, s.J. (2007) Economics of sugar-based ethanol production and related policy issues, Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, 39(2), pp. 357–363.
PEaRCE, d., BaRBiER, d. and MaRKaNdYa, a. (1989) Blueprint for a Green Economy. London: Earthscan.
PiMENTEL, d. and KouNaNg, N. (1998) Ecology of soil erosion in ecosystems, Ecosystems, 1, pp. 416–426.
sERRão, E.a.s. and HoMMa, a.K.o. (1993) Sustainable Agriculture and the Environment in the Humid Tropics. Washington: National academy Press.
THiRdWoRLdNETWoRK (2001) International Environmental Governance: Some Issues from a Developing Country Perspective. Published online , accessed on 4 apr. 2007.
WaLLaCE, s. (2007) Last of the amazon, National Geographic, 211(1), pp. 40–71.
Woods WHoLE REsEaRCH CENTRE (2007) Agricultural Frontier Explosion in Brazil. Published online , accessed 23 May 2007.