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Resistance to soy monoculture expansion in Colonia Barbero, San Pedro, Paraguay

The rural community of Colonia Barbero is struggling against the expansion of soybean monocultures, which employ almost no local labour while using strong agrochemicals, polluting neighbouring plantations.


The rural community of Colonia Barbero is struggling against the expansion of soy plantations. One of the states limiting with the Colonia is owned by DAP, a company which says to produce “Responsible Soy” as defined by the RTRS (Roundtable on Responsible Soy). Yet, peasants employed by DAP have complained about the irregularity of their contracts and the preference to employ foreign labourers by the company despite their initial promises and the regulations regarding labour set by the RTRS [2].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Resistance to soy monoculture expansion in Colonia Barbero, San Pedro, Paraguay
State or province:San Pedro
Location of conflict:Colonia Barbero
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Land acquisition conflicts
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The rapid growth of the soy industry in Paraguay is partly due to the introduction of Genetically modified varieties of soy. It is estimated that nowadays, around 95% of the soy produced in the country is GM resistant to herbicides [2]. The Paraguayan government has favoured foreign investment in the agricultural sector through the construction of infrastructure and low tax system [2].

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Project area:5,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:3,000
Start of the conflict:2006
Company names or state enterprises:Grupo Desarollo Agricola Paraguay (DAP) from Paraguay
Relevant government actors:Local government San Pedro
International and Finance InstitutionsRoundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:ASEED Europe
Base Investigaciones Sociales
Corporate Europe Observatory
Grupo de Reflexión Rural
Rain Forest Action Network
Fundación Rosa Luxemburgo
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Genetic contamination, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Potential: Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Development of alternatives:In San Pedro, there is a municipal regulation since 2012 that protects 30 different communities as “agroecological zones”. One of them is located in Colonia Barbero. The regulation prohibits, inter alia, the utilization of agrochemicals and GMOs and cutting trees growing next to water streams [3]. A group of smallholders produced organic Marian that was sold to European markets through a cooperative, and the municipal regulation was meant to protect them. Yet, the export of organic Marian was suspended in 2015 because rests of agrochemicals had been found.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Despite protests, DAP established a soy monoculture in the area. Fumigation has taken place and neighbouring plantations have been polluted, but a response from the authorities has been lacking.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[4] Holland, N., et al., 2008. "The Roundtable on Irresponsible Soy"
[click to view]

[2] Gijsendergh, A. “¿Responsible Soy? A corporate response to the negative impacts of soy production and expansión on sustainable and inclusive development” Master Thesis
[click to view]

[1] Corporate Europe Observatory, 2009. '“Soja Responsible” en Paraguay: El Grupo DAP y el avance del monocultivo de soja en San Pedro'
[click to view]

[3] Areco, A. “Defensa territorial. Iniciativas locales” BASE, Inestigaciones Sociales and Fundación Rosa Luxemburgo
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Ultima Hora (local online newpaper)
[click to view]

Video letters against soy struggles in Paraguay, ASEED Europe (NGO website)
[click to view]

"Peasant protest demanding debt cancellation" ABC Color (online newspaper)
[click to view]

Other documents

Protest ub colonia Barbero Source: Ultima Hora
[click to view]

Protest agaisnt the RTRS, in Asuncion, august 2006 Source: Corporate Europe Observatory
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Clàudia Custòdio
Last update27/04/2017
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