In the heart of the Amazon rainforest a huge soya port owned by the giant US company Cargill has just been closed down by the Brazilian Environmental Agency (IBAMA). The orders to close the port came after a seven-year legal battle by the Brazilian Federal Prosecutors over Cargill's failure to provide an environmental impact assessment for the facility.
The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise is pushed away by Cargill's facility ship during a protest against the company's illegal soya port in the Amazon rainforest. Soya expansion is one of the leading causes of deforestation in the Amazon. The soya is exported to Europe for animal feed.
The port facilities, built by Cargill in Santarém, has been at
the centre of a controversy as huge tracts of the Amazon were being
destroyed to grow soya which was shipped from the facility to
Europe, to provide cheap feed for chicken which is then sold in
fast food outlets and supermarkets.
It's been a long struggle. Since 2000 the Federal Ministry of
Public Prosecution (MPF) has been engaged in legal battle in order
to have a thorough Environmental Impacts Assessment carried out.
However, instead of complying with Brazilian environmental law,
Cargill has exploited the shortcomings of a complex Brazilian legal
system to buy time to construct and operate the terminal without
assessing its potentially enormous environmental impacts.
"This is an important day for the Amazon rainforest and for its
people. A big step forward has been taken in enforcing the
responsible use of natural resources and bringing greater
governance in the Amazon," said Paulo Adario, Greenpeace Amazon
Campaign Coordinator in Brazil.
"We trust that Cargill will respect the judiciary and conduct a
broad environmental impact assessment, which will result in
concrete measures to minimize the impacts by its port and soya
expansion in the region. In that way, the company will also confirm
its commitment to the moratorium on further deforestation for soya
planting, announced by the soya sector in Brazil last year."
The Greenpeace report, '
Eating up the Amazon' revealed that the world-wide demand for
soya has been fuelling deforestation of the world's biggest
tropical rainforest. In May last year, we launched a high-profile
protest in the region, blocking Cargill's Santarem port with our
ship, the Arctic Sunrise.
Last year also saw McDonald's being flipped from 'bad guy' to
'good guy' by consumers after it was revealed they purchased soya
grown on the ashes of the Amazon rainforest. The
unique alliance between Greenpeace and McDonald's that followed
was instrumental in creating a moratorium on further destruction of
the Amazon for soya.
The suspension of Cargill port activities in Santarém is the
culmination of years of demands by the local communities and the
people who are fighting the expansion of soya cultivation in the
Amazon. Soya and other agricultural products are key drivers for
deforestation, threatening huge loss of biodiversity and
contributing to climate change.
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