A Shifting Equation Links Modern Farming and Forests

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Science  12 Nov 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5443, pp. 1283
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5443.1283

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New studies of deforestation around the world suggest that high-tech agriculture can be either culprit or savior. In Brazil, for example, a new strain of soybeans planted by farmers wound up accelerating the destruction of the tropical forest, while in the Philippines an irrigation project protected a tropical forest elsewhere on the same island. Among the key factors the researchers identify for analyzing future development projects are how the new technologies affect the labor market and migration, whether the crops are sold locally or globally, and how profitable farming is at the boundary between cultivated land and forest.