Undercover Investigation Reveals Soy Scandal

Feature story - April 6, 2006
For over two years, Greenpeace international has been involved in an intense investigation of Amazon soy. It's no secret that the Amazon rainforest is being destroyed to make room for soybean crops, but the driving force behind the deforestation has been a secret... until now.

Our team looked beyond the fields and forests of Brazil to trace the entire soy chain from its beginnings in North American boardrooms to its ends in the feedlots, restaurants and supermarkets of Europe.  We're releasing our findings in a controversial new report: Eating up the Amazon.

Soybean production in the Amazon has grown exponentially in recent years.  This rapid expansion of the agricultural frontier  has resulted in some of Brazil's richest ecological areas being bulldozed to make room for crops.  In fact, soy is now the leading cause of Amazon deforestation.  The scientific journal Nature recently warned that 40 percent of the Amazon will be lost by 2050 if current trends continue.  Not only will the loss of the rainforest contribute to global warming, it will have devastating effects on indigenous people and wildlife that depend on the forest for survival.

Our investigative unit used satellite images, aerial surveillance, previously unreleased government documents and on-the-ground monitoring to expose the illegal links in the soy chain.  Our report follows a path of destruction built by the U.S. multinationals that finance the soy farming, buy the soy, and ship it to Europe through their own ports and processing plants to be fed to animals like chickens and pigs.  Which soy processors are to blame?  It's as easy as ABC.

ADM, Bunge and Cargill - Big Profits, Dirty Hands

Three major companies - ADM, Bunge and Cargill - account for 60 percent of the total financing of soy production in Brazil.  By building soy silos and terminals at the rainforest edge and buying soy from illegally cleared and operated farms - including farms with a documented record of slave labor - these companies are both spurring and profiting from the soy plunder of the Amazon.  

Cargill is the worst of the worst.  It has constructed a massive and illegal port facility in the frontier city of Santarém. Cargill projects that two to three million tons of soy a year will be trucked into its Santarém plant once a highway is completed - a volume of exports that demands a huge increase in soy cultivation in the region.  Cargill constructed the $20 million terminal over the objections of local people, without conducting the environmental impact assessments required by Brazilian law.

The Amazon rainforest is not only one of the richest and most biologically diverse regions on the planet, it is also one of the most threatened.  In order to protect this ancient treasure, this unsustainable development needs to stop immediately.  We're calling on companies to ensure that their soy comes from legal sources outside the Amazon rainforest, farmed without slave labor and free of genetic engineering.

Learn More >> Read the full report