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Jungle boogie

21 December 2013

Two great ideas that go well together… sustainable agriculture and safe sex.

Kate Evans in The Guardian:

Deep in the Amazon rainforest, in Brazil’s far western region, tappers walk the forest trails, harvesting liquid latex from the trunks of the bountiful native rubber trees.

But while their grandparents collected rubber for military use in World War Two, today it is used for lovemaking, not war – transformed into condoms at a factory in the town of Xapuri in Acre state.

The industry provides a sustainable way to profit from the forest, the state government says, and condoms are distributed free of charge throughout Brazil to help keep HIV/Aids in check.

While the article is focused on state policies designed to protect the Amazon, it doesn’t seem all that important whether or not condom production is, in itself, a profitable industry. Presumably lowering the costs of treating HIV/AIDS through prevention (as well as preventing unwanted pregnancies) represents a cost savings that perhaps can be calculated, and I suppose someone could come up with some formula that would put a dollar amount on the value of preserving xx hectares of rain forest, but it seems rather futile. And beside the point: governments are not businesses, and simply creating a financial return on investments is not their job. Something all too often forgotten (like when… ahem… states forget that natural resources are for the benefit of the people, not a profit center).

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