SAN FRANCISCO – Representatives from Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and social justice activists on a three-day hunger strike rallied today outside the annual shareholders meeting of Bunge (NYSE: BG). The protesters accused the company of disregarding human rights and the environment and charged that Bunge-whose profits reached a record high last quarter-is benefiting from the global food crisis, the use of slave labor in Brazil, and deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and the adjacent Cerrado.
Participating in the meeting were RAN campaigner Andrea Samulon and Judson Barros, director of the Brazilian NGO FUNAGUAS, which successfully sued Bunge for using native wood from the Cerrado to power its soy facility. Bunge is the largest exporter of soy from Brazil, where the crop has become the greatest driver of deforestation in the Amazon and the Cerrado.
"Bunge is misleading its shareholders about its practices in Brazil," said Samulon. "The company continues to buy soy from plantations the Brazil government has blacklisted for using slave labor. Demanding that a public company not use slave labor is the lowest bar investors can set, and Bunge has failed to meet it."
"Bunge operates in my state of Piaui, Brazil, without respect for the environment, the people, or the laws," said Barros. "American shareholders are responsible for the company's actions and need to know about its practices."
Soy production is expanding dramatically in Brazil. Environmental impacts in the Amazon and the Cerrado, one of the world's most biodiverse ecosystems, are particularly acute: With deforestation accounting for three quarters of its emissions, Brazil is the fourth largest greenhouse gas polluter in the world. The expansion of soy also forces Indigenous and other small farming communities off their lands, providing just one job for every 11 subsistence farmers it displaces. Dramatic increases in pesticide use and human and environmental exposure are also linked to soy expansion.
Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break North America’s fossil fuels addiction, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit: www.ran.org