Brazil's Federal Prosecutors call for demolition of Cargill's Soya facilities in the Amazon

Press release - 11 December, 2003
Dramatic images of the Amazon rainforest on fire have been released by Greenpeace to highlight the devastating impacts of Soya production in the region. At the same time, one of the main forces behind the expansion of Soya production in Para State, the US- based company Cargill, is to face legal action over its illegally-built Soya handling facility on the banks of the river.

The US based Cargill corporation burns large areas of rainforest to prepare for soya plantations.

Brazil's Federal Prosecutors announced yesterday that they will launch legal action in the Federal Courts calling for demolition of Cargill's Soya handling facilities in Santarem Harbour, Para State. The Federal Prosecutors will also ask for the immediate suspension of the American corporation's activities in Santarem until the courts reach their decision.

Under Brazilian law the construction of the Cargill facility required prior preparation and approval of an Environmental Impact Assessment. Instead of complying, they chose to contest this requirement in the courts. After four years of court challenges, in late November 2003 the Court of Final Instance ruled unanimously against Cargill. However, in the interim, the multinational giant constructed their facility in Santarem's main beach, in violation of the law. Twenty-five families were displaced in the process.

"Cargill believed that because they were a powerful multinational, they could disrespect both Brazilian legislation and the environment," said Federal Prosecutor Felicio Pontes. "The court decision shows that they were wrong."

Over the past week Greenpeace has documented huge deforested areas in Santarem, many still on fire, all being cleared for Soya plantations. The aerial images, which were given to the Federal Prosecutors, confirm that the attack of private companies on the forest continues out of control.

In addition to Cargill's facilities in Santarem, the other forces driving soya expansion in Para State are low land prices (1) and the lack of funding for an effective government inspection infrastructure.

Between August 2001 and August 2002 deforestation in Brazil's Amazon increased 40% compared to the previous 12 months. Analysis of satellite images by the National Institute of Space Research (INPE) shows that the destruction dramatically expanded beyond what is known as the "Arc of Deforestation" - that runs from the east and south of Para State towards Acre State - and is cutting deeper and deeper into the heart of the untouched forest. According to the Ministry of Environment, this deforestation is a direct result of the invasion of Soya producers.

Based on ongoing field investigations, Greenpeace believes that deforestation in 2003 will be even higher than in 2002. A new trend is appearing.

Traditionally cattle ranchers would move into areas that loggers had exploited, and clear the land for pastures. Emphirical data now indicates that cattle ranchers continue to push into new areas that are being deforested, after exhaustive exploitation by loggers, later selling the areas to the Soya producers. At the same time the Soya producers are burning large tracts of the forest solely for conversion to large-scale agriculture.

"In the Amazon there is a growing and very dangerous trend: a consortium of illegal loggers, cattle ranchers and Soya producers committed to maximum short term profit, at the cost of destruction of the Amazon", said Paulo Adario, Greenpeace Amazon Campaign Coordinator. "The government needs to choose: contain deforestation, support and promote sustainable alternative, and strengthen the Ministry of Environment, or lose immense areas of the Amazon to predatory exploitation."

VVPR info: Aerial footage shot yesterday of forest fires, which have been deliberately started to clear the jungle for Soya planting are available from the Video Desk +31 627 00 00 57 and the Photo Desk +31 653 81 91 21You can link to web versions of the footage here:Quicktime: Media:

Notes: The MV Arctic Sunrise is in Para State as a part of our campaign to promote the ecological and social use of the forest resources, as well as the creation of a network of protected areas in ancient forest regions worldwide.The Greenpeace report 'State of Conflict' is available at Before the completion of the Cargill facility, one hectare of rural land in the region cost R$ 50 (US$ 13). With the arrival of "gauchos", as the Soya producers are called, the price per hectare skyrocketed to R$ 900 (US$ 300). Entire rural communities were displaced, the inhabitants having sold their land rights and moved to the city.