Brazil extends Amazon soy ban
June 18, 2008
According to the Associated Press, grain crushers have extended a two-year-old moratorium on the purchase of soybeans planted in areas of the Amazon rain forest cut down after 2006, Brazil''s environment minister said recently.
Carlos Minc made the announcement together with the Brazilian Vegetable Oils Industry Association, a soy industry group, as part of a larger effort to regulate land use in the world''s largest remaining tropical wilderness. The original ban began July 31, 2006, and was scheduled to end on July 31 of this year. It will now remain in effect until July 23, 2009.
Minc told reporters in Brazil''s capital that he would work to fashion similar agreements with loggers, slaughterhouses, and steel mills in the Amazon.
The current moratorium seems to be preventing additional rain forest destruction: A study conducted by Greenpeace and the oils industry association concludes that no new soybean plantations were detected in any of the 193 areas that registered deforestation of 250 acres or more during the first year of the moratorium.
Environmentalists praised the measure.
The agreement includes about 94 percent of Brazil''s soybean crushers, including U.S. commodities giants Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Bunge Ltd., as well as France''s Dreyfus and Brazilian-owned Amaggi.
Brazil is the world''s number two producer of soybeans, after the United States.
The vegetable oils association also hailed the accord but denied soybeans are a major factor in Amazon deforestation.
Environmentalists argue that rising soybean prices have encouraged farmers to expand into the Amazon, making grain the third-largest driver of deforestation after logging and cattle ranching.