"The big soya farmers also use debt to get their hands on our land. To grow soya these days requires expensive machinery, and there’s a private credit agency that gives loans to small farmers around here. Because they have no capital, the agency asks for their land as a guarantee. The small farmers all believe that next year they’ll be able to pay it off, but they never do. Growing soya is only profitable on a big scale. Most local farmers have 30 or 40 hectares at most, and you need at least 1,000 hectares to make money. When they default, the agency seizes their land and sells it on at a profit to the Brazilians.
As well as gradually driving rural families off their land, the expansion of soya is also immensely destructive in environmental terms. Since around the year 2000, the big soya growers have all been using genetically-modified seeds. They are made by Monsanto, a huge company in the US. The seeds are designed to be resistant to toxic herbicides, so the soya farmers just pour as much veneno [poison] on them as they like.
The land is ruined now. The trees don’t bare fruit, for example, and the animals die from the contamination in the water. Last year one of my neighbours saw 18 of his cows die in the space of just two months. The pressure to expand into new areas is also causing woods and forests to be cut down across Paraguay. Deforestation rates were so high that the government recently put a temporary ban on cutting down more trees, but the big soya farmers carry on just the same. "