UK farm animal feed supplier still linked to Amazon deforestation | Deforestation

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A major feed supplier is still buying soybeans and corn from a farm linked to deforestation in the Amazon, despite pledging to clean up its global supply chains.

Cargill, a giant agricultural multinational that sells feed for British chicken farms, buys crops from a farm growing soybeans on deforested land in the Brazilian Amazon.

An investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Greenpeace Unearthed, Repórter Brasil and Ecostorm revealed Cargill’s ties to Brazilian supplier firm Fazenda Conquista.

The farm in the Brazilian Amazon has been responsible for eight square kilometers of deforestation since 2013, with several forest fires recorded in 2020. Its business with Cargill includes the supply of soybeans, and the farm has signed an agreement to deliver 5,700 tons of corn to the company this year. It is not known if the crops in question were grown on a recently deforested part of the farm.

The findings raise questions about Cargill’s due diligence process. The company pledged not to buy soybeans from deforested land in the Amazon after 2008, and last year pledged to act faster to eliminate “commodity-driven deforestation”.

But Cargill has also been repeatedly linked to deforestation. In 2020, the Office and Unearthed reported 800 km2 of deforestation and 12,000 fires since 2015 on land used by Cargill soy suppliers in the Cerrado, another protected biome in Brazil.

The company exports thousands of tonnes of Brazilian soya to the UK each year for animal feed. Campaigners said the results highlighted the hidden environmental costs of cheap meat.

“Broilers are the most intensively farmed animal in the UK with over a billion slaughtered each year,” said Lindsay Duncan, campaigns manager at World Animal Protection UK.

“The growing demand for cheap chicken is driving a growing demand for soybeans, causing large-scale deforestation and devastating environmental degradation, which is destroying the natural habitats of millions of wild animals.”

Up to 80% of all soy grown in the world is used for livestock. The UK imported around 3.5 million tonnes of soybeans in 2019, around half of which ends up in chicken feed.

About a quarter of the soy imported into the UK comes from Brazil, and the vast majority is marketed by Cargill.

Cargill said, “We are committed to eliminating deforestation from our supply chains as soon as possible, and we are accelerating our efforts.” Responding to the findings regarding the Fazenda Conquista, the statement continued, “If fire has been used and has impacted the native forest or if an irregularity is confirmed, we will take appropriate action.”

The state of the land in question before 2013 is disputed: Fazenda Conquista management said in a statement that the farm had permission from the local environmental agency to carry out a “controlled burn” on the land because it had been originally deforested in the early 1980s. .

However, satellite imagery shows the forest had grown back since then, and Brazil’s Deforestation Monitoring Program flagged the clearing in 2013 as deforestation.

The local environment agency, Sema, confirmed that it had authorized a burn on the farm in 2012 to clear the pastures with some degree of regeneration. But the agency said no license for total deforestation inside the farm had been authorized and admitted that although it lacked high-resolution satellite imagery before 2019 to identify deforestation in time real, a recent analysis suggested that there had been deforestation inside the property. Sema said he would investigate further.

In an independent analysis of satellite images, the NGO Aidenvironment also estimated that the land had been deforested. This year, the farm will be blacklisted under the soybean moratorium, a voluntary industry agreement that prohibits the trade of soybeans in deforested Amazon lands after 2008. The Soybean Task Force, which oversees the moratorium, said it identified an area of ​​deforestation that had been planted with soybeans during the last planting season.

A Bureau reporter visited the farm this year and saw soybeans growing on the ground.

The destruction of the Amazon rainforest is having serious consequences for the climate, with experts fearing the biome will soon cross a ‘tipping point’ at which it begins to shift from lush rainforest to drier savannah, releasing large amounts of carbon stored in the atmosphere.

According to the Brazilian space agency, deforestation in the Amazon soared 22% in the 12 months to July last year.

Major UK food companies have adopted ‘zero deforestation’ certification schemes to tackle the problem, but ‘dirty’ soy linked to deforestation continues to enter supply chains.

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