What were the negative effects of the Columbian Exchange?

There were many negative effects of the Columbian Exchange. For one thing, it brought about the importation of deadly communicable diseases to the New World. Many Indigenous people died from these diseases, as they had never been exposed to them before. Invasive species such as rats and sand fleas also wrought havoc in the American environment, causing serious infections and having a negative impact on native flora and fauna.

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Virtually all of the Columbian Exchange's negative effects were felt by the Indigenous population of the New World. Although the Exchange was mutually beneficial in certain respects, it's fair to say that for the Indigenous Americans, the cons vastly outweighed the pros.

For one thing, the Europeans brought with them all manner of deadly communicable diseases. Indigenous people had never encountered such diseases before and so had not developed any kind of natural defenses against them. The results were catastrophic. Large numbers of Native Americans died of measles, smallpox, influenza, and many other diseases caused by the tiny, invisible microbes that had accompanied European settlers across the Atlantic.

And it wasn't just diseases that came with the Europeans. Rats did too—and lots of them. They hitched a ride aboard European ships, and when the Europeans disembarked, so did they. They helped to spread disease as well as devastating the local flora and fauna.

Sand fleas also came with the European colonists. Sand fleas burrow their way under the skin, where they deposit their eggs. This can cause serious infection, and even death, if the infection isn't treated properly. Many people died as a result of sand flea infection, as the medical knowledge of the day was insufficiently developed.

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The Columbian Exchange involved the exchange of goods, ideas, plants, animals, and technology across the Atlantic Ocean following Columbus's voyages of discovery. Along with the exchanges of these things, however, also came the exchange of disease. The arrival of new European diseases in the Americas had a tremendous negative effect on Native American populations. Diseases like smallpox, cholera, measles, and scarlet fever arrived with European explorers and conquerers. While Europeans had been exposed to these diseases for generations and had built up some immunity to them, Native Americans had never been exposed to these deadly diseases before. Due to lack of exposure to these diseases, Native Americans had built up no immunity to them. This meant epidemics that would kill millions of Native Americans and reduce their populations significantly. As a result of these epidemics and the destruction of many Native American populations, many Native American civilizations were left weakened and vulnerable to attack and eventual conquest by the Europeans.

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When discussing the negative effects of the Colombian Exchange, the diseases and destruction that the old world brought tends to dominate the subject. Diseases such as smallpox, measles, and different strains of influenza were passed to the Natives from the Europeans. These Native Americans had not built up immunity to these viruses. Between 1500 and 1650, millions of Natives died as a result of these diseases.

Another negative effect was the exploitation of people for slave labor. As gold and silver mines began to be discovered and Native laborers died off, the Europeans looked to Africa as a source of slave laborers. Tobacco and corn farms were also built, all of this on the backs of slaves.

Thinking back on the diseases, animals in the new world were also devastated. These diseases nearly wiped out native animals. Moreover, the Europeans brought rats to the Americas, which caused massive destruction, especially on small islands.

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The Columbian Exchange involved the flow of animals, plants, technology, and concepts from the Old World to the Americas and vice versa following Columbus's explorations. Some of the negative effects of the exchange included the diseases, like smallpox and influenza, that Europeans brought to the "New World." The Native Americans had no prior exposure to these diseases and had not built up any immunity. As a result, these diseases were deadly to them and decimated their populations.

The Europeans also brought the system of slavery from the Old World. They first tried to enslave Native Americans and then later turned to imposing a ruthless system of slavery on Africans. Slaves were exploited to grow tobacco, sugar, rice, and other crops, and this system kept black people in shackles for centuries.

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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. 

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The biggest negative of the Columbian Exchange, and one so devastating that it threatens to outweigh all of the positives, is the unilateral genocide of the native peoples of the new world. This was done at times unintentionally and at others systematically. The first way that this came into effect was the diseases that the Europeans unwittingly brought with them from the old world. The Native Americans did not have the same resistance to certain diseases such as syphilis and smallpox. These diseases quickly ravaged through their population, killing many.

Tribes whose lands were being invaded quickly saw no other option but to go to war with the invading Europeans. These natives, despite their ferocity, were completely outmatched in terms of technological prowess. The ensuing slaughter and slavery represent an incredibly dark chapter of European colonialism.

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The biggest negative effect would be disease.  Ninety percent of native Americans were wiped out by smallpox, diphtheria, whooping cough, and plague.  Europeans, while not entirely immune, had some resistance.  Natives, on the other hand, had never experienced these diseases and died in droves as a result as they did not know how to ease the symptoms, let alone treat the illness.  Smallpox enabled Cortes to take the Aztec empire and it depopulated New England before the Pilgrims arrived in 1620.  Diseases spread all over the North American continent due to the extensive trade networks between tribes that have only recently been noticed by contemporary historians.  Another negative effect would be the influx of non-native animals to native biomes.  Pigs especially were bad because they rooted through native cropland that was not fenced.  Since it was not fenced, Europeans would not acknowledge that it was planted intentionally and would not compensate the natives for their losses.  This led to conflict and eventually skirmishes between colonist and native.  

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The Columbian Exchange was the widespread transfer of goods and ideas, plants, animals, food, humans, cultures, etc., between the east and west after Europe discovered the Americas, opening up trade routes. The main negative effects were the propagation of slavery and the spread of communicable diseases. 

European settlers brought tons of communicable diseases to the Americans. Indigenous peoples had not built up immunity, and many deaths resulted. Smallpox and measles were brought to the Americas with animals and peoples. Smallpox is believed to be the number one killer of indigenous peoples at the time, surpassing all wars. Yellow fever was also brought from Africa to the Americas via the slave trade. It is believed that Europeans, perhaps Christopher Columbus himself, also brought syphilis. 

The Columbian exchange also opened up the passage of humans from West Africa to the Americas as slaves, increasing slavery as an overall practice.

Some invasive species of plants and pathogens were also accidentally introduced to Europe.

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Although the Columbian Exchange benefited both Europe and America by introducing new crops and types of livestock to each continent, the clash of cultures had some negative results as well. Most notably, the Columbian Exchange brought deadly diseases to the New World and its inhabitants. Diseases such as smallpox had been transmitted throughout the Old World, enabling its inhabitants to develop an immunity to them. However, Native Americans had no immunity to these diseases. Consequently, vast numbers of Native Americans suffered and died from smallpox and other similar Old World diseases when they encountered the European explorers and colonizers. Some researchers also think the Europeans may have contracted diseases from the Native Americans, too. Specifically, genetic evidence seems to indicate syphilis entered Europe through Columbus' voyages.

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