Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 903–924 | Cite as

An assessment of the metabolic profile implied by agricultural change in two rural communities in the North of Argentina

  • Nancy ArizpeEmail author
  • Jesús Ramos-Martín
  • Mario Giampietro


The soy expansion model in Argentina generates structural changes in traditional lifestyles, which can be associated with different biophysical and socioeconomic impacts. To explore this issue, we apply an innovative method for integrated assessment—the multi-scale integrated analysis of societal and ecosystem metabolism framework—to characterize two communities in the Chaco Region, Province of Formosa, North of Argentina. These communities have recently experienced the expansion of soy production, altering their economic activity, energy consumption patterns, land use and human time allocation. The integrated characterization presented in the paper illustrates the differences (biophysical, socioeconomic and historical) between the two communities that can be associated with different responses. The analysis of the factors behind these differences has important policy implications for the sustainable development of local communities in the area.


Societal metabolism Soy expansion Chaco Biophysical accounting Rural development Multi-scale integrated analysis Land-time budget analysis 



We are very grateful to the following institutions for their help with this research: GEPAMA (University of Buenos Aires), the Qom community “La Primavera” and Tacaaglé’s community, MOCAFOR. We also acknowledge support from (i) the Catalan Government for a FI Scholarship, the Emergent Research Group on “Integrated Assessment: sociology, technology and the environment” SGR2009-042496 and the Consolidated Research Group on “Economic Institutions, Quality of Life and the Environment,” SGR2009-00962; (ii) the European Commission, EuropeAid Cooperation Office funded Alfa project Sustainable Use of Photosynthesis Products&Optimum Resource Transformation (SUPPORT); (iii) the EU funded project Synergies in Multi-Scale Interlinkages of Eco-Social Systems (SMILE, Contract 217213-FP7-2007-SSH-1); and (iv) the Spanish Ministry for Science and Innovation Project HAR–2010–20684–C02–01 and MSOCA-CSO2010-21979. Finally, we thank Liana Williams for proofreading and for very helpful comments.


  1. Altieri, M. (2009). The ecological impacts of large-scale agrofuel monoculture production systems in the Americas. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 29, 236–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arizpe, N., Giampietro, M., & Ramos-Martin, J. (2011). Food security and fossil energy dependence: An international comparison of the use of fossil energy in agriculture (1991–2003). Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, 30(1–2), 45–63. doi: 10.1080/07352689.2011.554352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arizpe N., Ramos-Martin J., & Giampietro M., (2012). Scaling-up the analysis of societal metabolism: From household to community metabolism. Draft Paper.Google Scholar
  4. Azcuy, A. E., & León, C. (2005). La sojización: Contradicciones, intereses y debates. Revista Interdisciplinaria de Estudios Agrarios, 23, 133–158.Google Scholar
  5. Boletta, P. E., Ravelo, A. C., Planchuelo, A. M., & Grilli, M. (2006). Assessing deforestation in the Argentine Chaco. Forest Ecology and Management, 228, 108–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bryman, A. (1989). Research methods and organization studies. ROUTLEDGE United Kingdom. ISBN:9780415084048.Google Scholar
  7. Bryman, A. (2008). Social research methods (748 p.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. CIA. (2009). The World. Argentina: Central Inteligence Agency Fact book.
  9. EPRASOL. (2008). Territorio Indigena: Situación, usos, problemas y propuestas (p. 24). Las Lomitas, Formosa: EPRASOL.Google Scholar
  10. FAO. (2010). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Food Price Indices.
  11. FIDA. (2009). Cartographie participative et bonnes pratiques. Rome Italie: Étude préparée pour le Fonds international de développement agricole. 55.Google Scholar
  12. García-López, G. A., & Arizpe, N. (2010). Participatory processes in the soy conflicts in Paraguay and Argentina. Ecological Economics, 70, 196–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gasparri, N. I., & Grau, H. R. (2009). Deforestation and fragmentation of Chaco dry forest in NW Argentina (1972–2007). Forest Ecology and Management, 258, 913–921.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Georgescu-Roegen, N. (1971). The entropy law and the economic process. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Georgescu-Roegen, N. (1975). Energy and economic myths. Southern Economic Journal, 41, 347–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Giampietro, M. (2003). Multi-scale integrated analysis of agro-ecosystems. Boca Raton: CRC Press. 472 pp.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Giampietro, M., Allen, T. F. H., & Mayumi, K. (2006a). Science for governance: The implications of the complexity revolution. In A. Guimaraes-Pereira, S. Guedes-Vaz, & S. Tognetti (Eds.), Interfaces between science and society (pp. 82–99). Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Giampietro, M., Allen, T. F. H., & Mayumi, K. (2006b). The epistemological predicament associated with purposive quantitative analysis. Ecological Complexity, 3, 307–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Giampietro, M., & Mayumi, K. (2000). Multiple-scale integrated assessment of societal metabolism: Integrating biophysical and economic representations across scales. Population Environment, 22(2), 155–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Giampietro, M., Mayumi, K., & Munda, G. (2006c). Integrated assessment and energy analysis: Quality assurance in multi-criteria analysis of sustainability. Energy, 31, 59–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Giampietro, M., Mayumi, K., & Sorman, A. H. (2011). The metabolic pattern of societies: Where economists fall short. Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Goldsmith, P., Bing, Li., Fruin, J., & Hirsch, R. (2004). Global shifts in agro-industrial capital and the case of soybean crushing: Implications for managers and policy makers. International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, 7(2), 87–115.Google Scholar
  23. Gomiero, T., & Giampietro, M. (2001). Multiple-scale integrated analysis of farming systems. The Thuong Lo commune (Vietnamese uplands) case study. Population and Environment, 22(3), 315–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Grau, H. R., Gasparri, N. I., & Aide, T. M. (2005). Agriculture expansion and deforestation in seasonally dry forests of northwest Argentina. Environmental Conservation, 32, 140–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Grünbühel, C. M., Haberl, H., Schandl, H., & Winiwarter, V. (2003). Socio-economic metabolism and colonisation of natural processes in Sang Saeng village: Material and energy flows, land use and cultural change in Northeast Thailand. Human Ecology, 31(1), 53–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Grünbühel, C., & Schandl, H. (2005). Using land-time-budgets to analyse farming systems and poverty alleviation policies in the LAO PDR. International Journal of Global Environmental Issues, 5(3/4), 142–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. IADB Garten Rothkopf. (2007). A Blueprint for Green Energy in the Americas. Strategic analysis of opportunities for Brazil and the Hemisphere. Featuring: The global biofuels outlook. Prepared for the Inter-American Development Bank by Garten. Inter American Development Bank, Washington, DC, P. 53.Google Scholar
  28. INDEC. (2001). Censo Nacional de Población, Hogares y Viviendas 1991 y 2001.Google Scholar
  29. Iñigo, V. (2008). Sujetos productivos, sujetos políticos, sujeto indígena: Las formas de su objetivación mercantil entre los tobas del Este de Formosa. Tesis doctoral Facultad de Filosofia y Letras, Universidad de Buenos Aires.Google Scholar
  30. Mathews, J. A., & Goldsztein, H. (2009). Capturing latecomer advantages in the adoption of biofuels: The case of Argentina. Energy Policy, 37, 326–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. MSyA, & UNEP. (2004). GEO Argentina: Perspectivas del medio ambiente. Ministerio de Salud y Ambiente de la Nacio′n (MSyA) Argentina and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). web/GEO/File/Geo_Argentina_2004.pdfS.
  32. Ministerio del Interior. (2011). Portal Oficial del Gobierno de la Provincia de Formosa.Google Scholar
  33. Monti, M., (2008a). Impacto en el sector productivo por el aumento en los Derechos de Exportación en Soja. Dirección de Extensión e Investigación Agropecuaria, Ministerio de la Producción, Provincia de Santa Fé, Argentina.Google Scholar
  34. Monti, M. (2008b). Retenciones móviles en los granos: Impactos económicos en el Distrito de Rufino. Dirección de Extensión e Investigación Agropecuaria, Ministerio de la Producción, Provincia de Santa Fé, Argentina.Google Scholar
  35. Morello, J. H., & Rodriguez, A. F. (2009). El Chaco sin bosques/edición literaria a cargo de Jorge H. Morello y Andrea F. Rodríguez. 1a ed.—Buenos Aires: Orientación Gráfica Editora, 432 p. ISBN 978-987-9260-73-9.Google Scholar
  36. Morello, J., Rodriguez, A., & Pengue, W. (2006). Mirando al revés: la ciudad desde el campo. El caso de la llanura chaco-pampeana argentina. In: A. Brown, U. Ortiz, M. Acerbi, & J. Corcuera (Eds.), La situación ambiental argentina 2005 (pp. 447–455). Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina.Google Scholar
  37. Naumann, M., & Madariaga, M. (2003). Atlas Argentino. Programa de Acción Nacional de Lucha contra la Desertificación, Secretaría de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sustentable, Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit, Buenos Aires. 94 p.Google Scholar
  38. Negri, R., (2008). Argentine Management and the ‘Pampas Revolution’. Consorcios Regionales de Experimentación Agrícola (CREA), BuenosAires.Google Scholar
  39. NOAA. (2009). Stakeholder engagement strategies for participatory mapping. USA: Coastal Services Center.Google Scholar
  40. Pastore, G., Giampietro, M., & Ji, L. (1999). Conventional and land-time budget analysis of rural villages in Hubei province, China. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, 18(3), 331–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Pengue, W. (2005). Transgenic crops in Argentina: The ecological and social debt. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 25, 314–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pengue, W. (2009a). El Desarrollo Rural Sostenible y los procesos de agriculturización, ganaderización y pampenización en la llanura Chaco-Pampeana. In: W. Pengue (Eds.), Fundamentos de Economía Ecológica. Bases teóricas e instrumentos para la resolución de los conflictos sociedad naturaleza. Editorial Kaicron. Buenos Aires.Google Scholar
  43. Pengue, W. A. (2009b). Se está perdiendo la Soberanía Alimentaria de los Pueblos. Entrevista. Diario Página 12. Buenos Aires. Febrero 2.Google Scholar
  44. Qaim, M., & Traxler, G. (2005). Roundup ready soybeans in Argentina: Farm level and aggregate welfare effects. Agricultural Economics, 31(1), 73–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rusell, B. (2009). Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. USA: SAGE Publications, Inc. ISBN 9780761914037.Google Scholar
  46. Tomei, J., & Upham, P. (2009). Argentinean soy-based biodiesel: An introduction to production and impacts. Energy Policy, 37, 3890–3898.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Zak, M., Cabido, D. Caceres., & Diaz, S. (2008). What drives accelerated land cover change in central Argentina? Synergistic consequences of climatic, socioeconomic and technological factors. Environmental Management, 42(2008), 181–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy Arizpe
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jesús Ramos-Martín
    • 2
    • 3
  • Mario Giampietro
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Programa de Postgrado de Antropología Social (PPAS)Universidad Nacional de MisionesPosadasArgentina
  2. 2.Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA)Universitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterraSpain
  3. 3.Departament d’Economia i d’Història EconòmicaUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterraSpain
  4. 4.Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA)BarcelonaSpain

Personalised recommendations