Soya Moratorium

Background - May 19, 2009
The soya industry has temporarily stopped buying produce from newly-deforested areas in the Amazon, but permanent protection is not guaranteed.

"Amazonia is burning for our food". 300 Greenpeace activists covering 2000 trees with flame posters to demonstrate against destructive logging for soya plantations in the Brazilian Amazon area.

A 2006 Greenpeace investigation called ' Eating up the Amazon' exposed the direct links between soya expansion and Amazon deforestation. The exposure convinced the soya industry to immediately stop purchasing soya grown in newly deforested areas of the Brazilian Amazon for 2 years from July 2006. In June 2008, the moratorium was extended by another year.

A Soya Working Group was created to support the implementation of the moratorium. Members include soya traders such as Bunge, Cargill, ADM and Amaggi, as well as NGOs including Greenpeace, Conservation International, TNC, IPAM and WWF.

The Brazilian government also committed to support the moratorium by speeding up the registration and mapping of rural properties. This includes designating environmental and economic zoning within the Amazon biome and prioritising areas where soya production is concentrated. The government also monitors and searches for newly deforested areas, using advanced satellite mapping at a higher level of detail than before.

So far the moratorium appears to be working. The traders' associations ABIOVE and ANEC who provide funding to farmers for growing soya, have said that growers who have contravened the ban will have their access to financial resources restricted. The message to farmers who tried to cheat the moratorium is that they will lose earnings not be able to get their product to market.

The Brazilian government is making efforts to halt deforestation, but it is hampered by lack of funds. Huge illegal and logging industry in Brazil is hard to track because much of it happens on unregistered properties. When the moratorium was extended in June 2008 the government promised to speed up registration of rural properties to more easily identify soya farms Greenpeace is monitoring its progress.

The soya moratorium is a huge step towards halting Amazon deforestation. The next step must come from political circles. Greenpeace has developed a mechanism that protects the forests to save the climate. The Forests for Climate approach needs to be adopted as part of international climate negotiations, as they form such a big part of the solution.