Last week, we wrote to ADM, Bunge and Cargill, to call for an extension and expansion of the Amazon Soy Moratorium. Great news! The Soy Working Group (GTS), including U.S. agribusiness companies -ADM, Bunge and Cargill- and NGOs such as Greenpeace, just announced that the two year Amazon Soy Moratorium would be extended for another year. Watch the Greenpeace video here. This is good, because two years is not enough to truly stop the clearing of rainforests for soy expansion. According to Greenpeace, soy is the third largest driver of Amazon deforestation after illegal logging and cattle ranching.
According to an AP news article, deforestation of the Amazon is on course to rise after three years of declines. Figures for April released earlier this month showed a startling 434 square miles (1,123 sq km) of forest lost in the month. This deforestation occurred in the legal Amazon, which is monitored under the soy moratorium, but also in the Amazon transition zone, sacred to Indigenous people, and the Cerrado- the world’s largest tropical savannah. The Moratorium is a good mechanism to monitor deforestation, but much more needs to be done to truly stop the clearing and burning of the Amazon, as well as other tropical ecosystems.
That’s why in our letter to ADM, Bunge and Cargill, last week, we also called for an expansion of the soy moratorium to other regions such as the Cerrado, the Gran Chaco and rainforests in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, that are affected by the rapid expansion of commodities like palm oil, corn and sugarcane. We’re waiting to hear back from the companies on the call for expansion.
See the text of our letter below.
June 10, 2008
Dear ADM, Bunge and Cargill,
On July 24, 2006, your company committed to not purchase soy from newly deforested land in the Amazon biome as a part of the Soy Moratorium. I commend you for your leadership in advancing the goals of the Soy Moratorium and urge you to extend the deadline and expand its scope.
The Soy Moratorium has had some positive impacts in the first 2 years that are important to recognize.
1. The Soy Workgroup (GTS) including ABIOVE member companies like ADM, Bunge and Cargill, the Brazilian government, and NGOs such as Greenpeace and IPAM, was created to develop mechanisms to implement the Soy Moratorium.
2. Results of the first GTS field evaluation between August 2006- August 2007, and the field visits between January-February 2008 show that no newly cleared area over 100 hectares was being used to grow soy.
3. The Brazilian government has undertaken a project to map the entire Amazon, documenting which areas in the legal Amazon that have been recently deforested. This project has helped enforce the government’s regulations requiring landowners to clear no more than one-fifth of rainforest land they own.
The Soy Moratorium represents a solid first step towards better governance and monitoring of the soy production chain in the Amazon biome. However, there is still room to strengthen the Moratorium in its capacity to guard against environmental degradation as well as human rights violations. For example, it currently contains a loophole which allows ranchers to clear land to graze cattle for 2-3 years before selling it to soy producers—a common practice. This is problematic in light of last week’s announcement by Brazil’s National Institute for Spatial Research reporting that the Amazon lost at least 2,258 square miles of forest cover from August 2007 to April 2008, an increase from the previous year.
After 3 years of declining deforestation in the Amazon, it is on the rise again due to the world’s ever-growing demand for grains, such as soy, used for food, feed and fuel. It is an opportune moment to further advance the goals of the Soy Moratorium. As an agribusiness industry leader I encourage you to show leadership in the GTS by committing to an extension of the Moratorium. I would also encourage you to consider expanding the model of the Soy Moratorium to other regions such as the Cerrado, the Gran Chaco and rainforests in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, that are affected by the rapid expansion of commodities like palm oil, corn and sugarcane.
I would appreciate a timely response to my request as the deadline for the Moratorium nears. Please contact me at your earliest convenience by e-mailing email@example.com or by calling 415-659-0511.
Rainforest Action Network