Greenpeace Activists in Brazil Block Cargill Soy Facility

Feature story - May 19, 2006
After two years of investigation, we’ve uncovered a string of illegal soy production that is destroying the Amazon rainforest, and can be traced to a large American corporation: Cargill.

A team of climbers from our ship, the Arctic Sunrise, shut down Cargill's illegal soy facility in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Our activists unfurled a banner on the conveyor belts at Cargill's facility, but angry Cargill employees nearby blasted the sign down with high-powered hoses, and the violence against our activists quickly escalated. Police arrived on the scene and arrested 16 of our activists, including one of our U.S. activists.

The Arctic Sunrise itself blockaded the Cargill port, preventing exports of soy from leaving the facility for several hours.

In the nearby city of Santarém, a group of Cargill's supporters surrounded the police station holding our activists, but were dispersed by military police.

Police secured the Arctic Sunrise as well, but an angry mob boarded our ship despite the police presence, and painted graffiti along the sides. Fireworks were also aimed at our ship and activists, even hitting an activist in the chest, but fortunately leaving him unharmed. Meanwhile, police used pepper spray to force the crew to open the radio room, and took them into custody. The rest of our activists remained in lockdown within the ship. Cargill tug boats pushed our ship out of the dock, and dragged it and our anchor out into the Tapajos river.

The illegal soy Cargill is producing has been linked to a massive fast food chain, including KFC's European restaurants. These fast food chains are literally eating up the Amazon, and we've detailed exactly how in a recent report.

Cargill, based in Minneapolis, MN, is the largest soy producer and exporter in the Amazon, operating 13 silos in the heart of the Amazon rainforest.

Soy is now a leading cause of rainforest destruction in the Brazilian Amazon. In total, an estimated 12,000 square miles of what was once rainforest has already  been destroyed, mostly illegally, to grow soybeans. Cargill makes no secret of helping establish soy farms in the Amazon, some of whom are complicit in other illegal activities such as land grabbing and slavery.

Corporations like Cargill must stop seeing the Amazon as a place to expand their soy businesses, and recognize it as the world's greatest rainforest  in need of urgent protection, not exploitation. We're calling on Cargill, and the fast food industry they sell to, to ensure that the soy and animal feed they buy and use does not contribute to the destruction of the Amazon.