What were the negative effects of the Columbian Exchange?
The negative effects of the Columbian Exchange were experienced almost exclusively by the indigenous peoples of the Americas. By far the most dramatic, and tragic, consequence of the exchange were the epidemics that raged across the Americas as Native peoples came in contact with European diseases (typhus, smallpox, mumps, plague, influenza and many others) to which they had no immunity whatsoever. Some demographic historians have estimated that the death toll of these epidemics may have risen to ninety percent of the pre-contact Native American population. This catastrophe was made even worse by the fact that it facilitated the conquest of Indian peoples and the settlement of the continent by Europeans. Another part of the Columbian Exchange was the introduction of Eurasian flora and fauna into the Americas. Hogs in particular were devastating to Native crops, destroying the corn, beans, and squash that were staples in the American Southeast and Central America. Other crops (e.g., certain strains of tobacco and sugar) that flourished in the Americas brought more Europeans, who sought to grow them as cash crops. They increased the demand for lands that were held by Native Americans. These developments, which proceeded directly from the Columbian Exchange, were devastating for Native Americans.