Greenpeace activists occupy an area in 1,645 hectares of the Amazon that has been illegally deforested.
The Amazon rainforest needs no introduction; the mere mention of
itsname conjures up images of a huge untouched wilderness bursting
withamazing life. But to McDonald's and a handful of huge soya
traders, theAmazon means something completely different. It means
cheap land andcheap labour. Cheap land because it is often stolen,
cheap labourbecause some of the people who work cutting down the
forest or work onthe farms in the Amazon are actually slaves. You
heard it right,slaves.
UPDATE, JULY 25,
2006: Thanks to enormous pressure from the thousands of emails and
letterssent to their European headquarters by you, our supporters,
McDonald'shas agreed to stop selling chicken fed on soya grown
in newlydeforested areas of the Amazon rainforest.
'How is this possible,' you ask? Well it goes something like
Thesoya traders encourage farmers to cut down the rainforest and
plantmassive soya monocultures. The traders take the soya and ship
it toEurope where it is fed to animals like chickens and pigs. The
animalsare then turned into fast food products like McDonald's
McNuggets andmany other products found in fast food outlets and
Thejourney from rainforest to restaurant might sound simple
enough but ithas taken a year-long investigation using satellite
images, aerialsurveillance, previously unreleased government
documents andon-the-ground monitoring to expose. What we found was
a globaltrade in soya from rainforest destruction in the Amazon to
McDonald'sfast food outlets and supermarkets across Europe.
Most of the global trade insoya is controlled by a small number
of massive traders: Cargill
Archer Daniels Midland (ADM)
. In Brazil, this cartel plays the roleof bank to the farmers.
Instead of providing loans they give farmersseed, fertiliser and
herbicides in return for soya at harvest: Bungealone provided the
equivalent of nearly US$1 billion worth of seed,fertiliser and
herbicides to Brazilian farmers in 2004.
Thisgives the companies indirect control over huge areas of land
that usedto be rainforest. Together, these three companies are
responsible foraround 60 percent of the total financing of soya
production in Brazil.
Thestate of Mato Grosso is Brazil's worst in terms of
deforestation andforest fires, accounting for nearly half of all
the deforestation inthe Amazon in 2003-04. In Mato Grosso, the
governor, Blairo Maggi, isknown locally as the 'Soya King'. His own
massive soya company GrupoAndre Maggi controls much of the soya
production in the state and sincehis election in 2002, forest
destruction in Mato Grosso has increasedby 30 percent.
Banks too have been caught up in thedestruction of the Amazon.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC)
,the private lending arm of the
, wrongly assessed a loan toGrupo Andre Maggi as being of 'low
environmental risk,' despiteevidence to the contrary. Other banks
have also lent huge sums of moneyto the company without conducting
their own environmental or socialimpact audits.
So far, Rabobank
, the Netherlands' biggestagricultural bank has lent over
to Grupo Andre Maggi.Rabobank admitted that it didn't do its own
assessment of the risk ofthe loans, simply accepting the (flawed)
assessment of the IFC.
So fast food and supermarkets, soya traders and big banks are
all trashing the Amazon rainforest.
Ifwe can track soya beans more than 7,000km (4,400 miles) from
farms inthe Amazon to chicken products in Europe, there is no
excuse for thefood industry not to know where their feed comes
from, and to demandthe exclusion of Amazon soya from their supply
Help us stop the destruction of the Amazon. We don't accept money from corporations or governments in order to maintain our independence.