International Handbook on Social Policy and the Environment
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International Handbook on Social Policy and the Environment

Edited by Tony Fitzpatrick

Environmental change is central to the global social policy challenges of the twenty-first century. This comprehensive Handbook brings together leading experts from around the world to address the most important questions and issues we face. How should welfare states adapt to environmental change? To what extent are the ecological and social policy agendas compatible? Must we contemplate radical reforms to the principles and organisation of welfare services? Combining cutting-edge theory and data in an interdisciplinary approach, this Handbook both summarises existing developments and suggests how debates and research must develop in the future.
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Chapter 7: Environmental and health costs of economic globalization policies in Latin America

Judith Cherni


Latin America has been particularly badly affected by intensified economic activity resulting from decades of globalization, although almost nowhere on the planet has been spared its environmental impacts entirely. The liberalization policies of the Washington Consensus have advocated the principle of 'comparative advantage' to stimulate economic growth in the developing countries through their participation in the international economy. For countries like Brazil and Argentina, the exploitation of comparative advantage in agriculture did indeed result in a huge expansion of their international trade, mostly due to the production of soya beans (US: soybeans) and corn (maize) crops. However, while the coffers of a few nations and of those involved in the trade have definitely filled as a consequence, the liberalization policy model has also had noticeably adverse effects on the natural environment and the population's health. This chapter seeks to analyse the policy process that has driven governments towards the deregulation of national rules, privatization and trade liberalization. As part of the Washington Consensus's 'comparative advantage', governments in developing countries have endorsed new forms of agriculture. Globalization policies have been pivotal in opening up Latin American agriculture to the international market, radically changing centuries-old agricultural practices that farmers had employed to preserve land fertility, and introducing modern genetically modified crops.

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