Activists dump soya at the entrance of Cargill's European Headquarters in 2006. Cargill is one of the leading soya traders that has now signed up to the moratorium on Amazon soya expansion.
The announcement from soya traders in Brazil provides hope for
the Amazon rainforest. We're not out of the woods yet, but this
decision and the history of campaigning that got us here should be
celebrated and built upon to protect all ancient forests for the
The Amazon campaign
Rising international demand for soya had led many farmers to
drive deforestation to make way for soya cultivation. Back in 2006,
we published '
Eating up the Amazon', a report on our investigation into the
links between soya in the supply chains of leading international
food companies and the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. At the
same time, we dressed up as chickens and heckled McDonald's, one of
the companies using soya from the Amazon for Chicken McNuggets back
then. The costumes were sweaty but, luckily for us (and the
McDonald's quickly reacted and agreed to join us and lead a
call for change.
Responding to this pressure, the major soya traders operating in
Brazil announced a two-year moratorium, which came into effect in
July 2006, stopping for the time being the trade in soya grown on
newly deforested land.Although recent figures show an increase in
Amazon deforestation rates, after three years of decline, the first
field evaluations show that the soya harvested this year in the
Brazilian Amazon has not come from newly deforested areas. In other
words, the moratorium is doing its job and halting soya related
forest destruction, despite the pressure from rising soya
Companies doing the right thing
Two years have not been long enough to establish permanent
solutions to halt deforestation related to soya farming, and
without an extension much of the hard work done to date would have
been lost.Credit for the extension goes primarily to two of our,
umm, favourite allies - big business and government.
The Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oil Industries (Abiove),
which represents soya traders, has recently been under huge
pressure from producers who wanted to weaken the moratorium by
allowing soya plantations in areas not permitted under the existing
agreement. Despite the pressure, in a press conference held in
Brasilia, Abiove has just confirmed that it will back the
moratorium for another year.
"Abiove's decision shows that it is possible for a leading
agribusinesscompany to ensure food production without destroying
forests", saidPaulo Adario, Greenpeace's Amazon campaign
A European alliance of soya consumer companies, led by
McDonald's, Marks & Spencer and Carrefour, also welcomed the
extension and, in a joint statement, renewed their commitment to
remaining actively engaged. In Brazil, the companies Wal-Mart,
Sadia and Yoki also supported this statement.
Brazilian Environment Minister Carlos Minc told reporters: "The
moratorium is a successful initiative by civil society and the soya
industry. The Federal Government is entering the process now and is
committed to register and license all rural properties in the
Amazon biome. Inspired by the success of this initiative, the
Brazilian government is negotiating similar approaches with the
timber and beef industries."
"We are delighted to see the new environment minister take an
active role in ensuring the continuation of the moratorium. Such
high-level support helps Abiove and the traders convince farmers to
support the initiative. His support also serves as a warning to
those who continue to destroy forests that their soya will be
rejected by the market," concluded Adario.
Not only has Minc come out in support of the extension, he has
committed the government to speeding up efforts for the
registration and mapping of rural properties in the Amazon. This is
essential if we are to ensure compliance by all parties to the laws
dictating which land may be used for farming and which is
off-limits for deforestation.
Much more still to be done
This announcement means we're one step closer to achieving that.
Further measures include curbing illegal occupation of public
lands, harsh penalties for illegal deforestation, driving
development to areas away from the rainforest and increasing
support for sustainable methods of production.
Rainforests and climate change
Not only is the forest a natural wonder but it is home to
millions of indigenous peoples. In addition, recent science has
proven that tropical forest destruction is responsible for nearly
one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, second only to the
energy sector. Stopping deforestation of the Amazon would bring us
much closer to keeping global temperature rise at below 2°C, which
most scientists believe is necessary to avoid catastrophic climate
Protect forests: Tell the EU to close their illegal logging legal loophole
Surely there's a law in Europe against importing illegally logged timber, right? Wrong. The EU will vote for such a law on 23 July, though, and we need your help to call for a clear and unequivocal "Yes!"