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The Good Earth: Did People Improve the Amazon Basin?

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Science  04 Feb 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5454, pp. 788
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5454.788

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Despite its rich flora, Amazonia has many thin, aluminum-rich soils that can't hold nutrients and are toxic to crucial soil bacteria. Societies that try long-term farming, say researchers, will destroy the soil completely--and their resource base along with it. But evidence has gradually accumulated that this picture of the Amazon may be overly simple.