Columbian Exchange causes and consequences effects

Columbian Exchange causes and consequences effects. Before 1492 C.E., the New World was cut off from the rest of the world. The voyages of Christopher Columbus and other explorers introduced new animals, plants, and institutions to the New World. The Old World received other plants and animals from the New World. Many of these exchanges had positive impacts, but the impact of some exchanges was negative.

Columbian Exchange causes: Corn/Maize

Corn, or maize, is one of the most important foods the Old World received from the New World. Alfred Crosby wrote, “If maize were the only gift the American Indian ever presented to the world, he would deserve undying gratitude, for it has become one of the most important of all foods for men and their livestock.”Corn can be grown on land that can’t easily grow rice or wheat. It has become an important food in Europe, Egypt, India, China, and other countries.

From Old World to New World

Additionally, Cattle were brought to Mexico in 1521. They became an important source of food and can pull and lift heavy loads. Horses allowed hunters to travel great distances and increased the area over which natives could search for food. Donkeys were important pack animals. Pigs and sheep were used for food and clothing.


Because they were separated from the rest of the world, Native Americans had no prior contact with smallpox and other deadly diseases. Thus, this made the diseases more dangerous than they were for Europeans. Between 1500 and 1650, large numbers of Native Americans died from measles, smallpox, influenza, and other diseases.

Columbian Exchange causes: Exploitation

Moreover, many explorers wanted to find gold and silver in the New World. They used any means available to them to bring these riches back to Europe. The loss of life from war and disease created a shortage of labor. Europeans turned to Africa to fill their needs for workers. Between 8 and 10.5 million slaves were forced to produce tobacco, rice, coffee, and sugar

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