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Hold Your Toast: How Avocados are Causing Mexico's Deforestation

Nov 11, 2016 10:40 AM EST
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The onset of the avocado craze, which has become a popular topping on salads and burritos, has caused a drastic effect on the forests in Mexico. The consumer demand for the green fruit has resulted to expanded groves and deforestation.

According to a report from the Associated Press, authorities announced earlier this week that there has been a massive increase in the expansion of avocado orchards in Mexico. In the state of Michoacan in western Mexico, the biggest producer of avocado in the world, almost 50,000 acres of land are converted to avocado plantations every year.

Talia Coria, an official in the attorney general's office for environmental protection, said that around 15,000 to 20,000 acres (30 to 40 percent) of forest land is being converted to agricultural estates.

From 2000 to 2010, the National Institute for Forestry, Farming and Fisheries Research of Mexico estimated a 1,700-acre loss to avocado planting.

Avocado plantations also come as a threat to the dense forest of Mexico as avocado trees use twice as much water. This means that the more avocado orchards, the lesser amount of water will reach Michoacan's mountain streams, where other fauna and flora in the forest rely on for sustenance, Business Insider reports.

Michoacan has been known to be a hub for the production of synthetic drugs, and authorities said that avocado planting has been an alternative source of income for the locals; that's why it's important to strike a balance between farming and preserving the forests.

"That is why we are sitting down now with all the parties involved to find a way to continue this industry of avocado growing, which provides a lot of Jobs and income for the state, in harmony with the conservation of our natural resources," Coria said.

"We are going to search for a way...to ensure that all avocados exported are legal, and that the environment has not been affected by their production. The avocado growers appear to be convinced that we have to find options for conserving the environment."

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