Greenpeace welcomes the extension of the Amazon soya moratorium

Press release - 17 June, 2008
Greenpeace welcomes the decision to extend by one year the Amazon soya moratorium, made today at a press conference in Brasilia by the soya traders association (Abiove), together with Brazil's new Environment Minister Carlos Minc, Greenpeace and other NGOs.

The moratorium, which prohibits the purchase of soya from newly deforested areas in the Amazon, or from farmers using indentured or forced labourers, was the direct result of a Greenpeace investigation documented in our 2006 report "Eating up the Amazon" and our subsequent campaign. The moratorium will now run until July 2009. (1)

Several soya producers had begun using rising agricultural commodity prices and global demand for grain to pressure Abiove (2) and traders not to extend the moratorium. A handful even used the global food crisis to justify further Amazon deforestation. "The decision to extend the moratorium against the backdrop of rising commodity prices and the food crises shows that government and industry now understand that it is possible to protect the forest, combat climate change and still ensure food production," said Paulo Adario, Greenpeace Amazon campaign director in Brazil.

Greenpeace, together with other NGOs, will continue to help Abiove to bring effective governance to the soya industry in the Amazon. Greenpeace warns however, that a one year extension may not be long enough to build the tools necessary to ensure that soya production does not result in further deforestation. (3)

An alliance of soya consumer companies, led by McDonalds, Marks & Spencer and Carrefour also welcomed the extension decision and, in a joint statement, renewed its commitment to remaining actively engaged. In Brazil, the companies Wal-Mart, Sadia and Yoki also supported the statement.

The direct involvement of the Brazilian government is key to providing the framework essential for farmers to comply with the law. (4)

"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," Minc told reporters. "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.

Tropical forest destruction is responsible for nearly one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, second only to the energy sector. 75% of Brazil's emissions come from forest destruction, making it the world's fourth largest greenhouse gas emitter.

Other contacts: Tica Minami, press officer for Greenpeace Amazon campaign:
+ 55 92 8114 4517

Paulo Adario, Greenpeace Amazon Campaign Director:
+ 55 92 8115 8928

Daniela Montalto, Greenpeace International Forests campaigner:
+ 31 6 461 62033

VVPR info: Greenpeace International photo desk: + 44 7801 615 889Greenpeace International video desk: + 31 6 461 62015

Notes: (1) On July 24th 2006, ABIOVE (Brazilian Association of Vegetal Oil Industry) and ANEC (National Association of Cereals Exporters) announced a two year moratorium on buying soya from newly deforested areas in the Amazon or from farmers using indentured or forced labourers. The moratorium followed an investigation by Greenpeace that proved that soya cultivation has become a new threat to the Amazon. A Soya Working Group (GTS) including ABIOVE, ANEC; soya traders; NGOs and social organisations was established in October 2006 to ensure the implementation of the moratorium. See Greenpeace updates on the progress of the implementation (2) ABIOVE and ANEC members, including major commodities giants Cargill, Bunge, ADM, Dreyfus and the Brazilian-based Ammagi, are responsible for more than 90% of the Brazilian soya trade.(3) On June 3, 2008, the Brazilian Space Agency INPE showed that Amazon deforestation increased to 1,423 km2 in April 2008 from 145 km2 in March. Because extensive cloud coverage made monitoring through satellite images difficult in certain areas, these are not final figures. More than 70% of the deforestation occurred in Mato Grosso which is the largest soya producing state in Brazil.(4) Effective measures to tackle deforestation include mapping rural properties and ownership; curbing illegal occupation of public land; harsh penalties for illegal deforestation; driving development to areas away from the rainforest and increasing support to sustainable activities. The System of Environmental Licensing of Rural Properties, a mechanism that enables authorities to monitor farms using geo-referenced maps and satellite imagery, must be implemented.