After years of progress to slow deforestation, farmers and advocates say the Amazon rainforest is once again being threatened — and two Big Ag companies may be responsible.
A new investigation from The New York Times released earlier this week found that Cargill and other agribusiness companies — including fellow trading giant Bunge — are linked to widespread forest burning and clearing across the Amazon basin. That resurgence, according to the investigation, is largely driven by the world’s growing appetite for soy and other agricultural crops.
In the Brazilian Amazon, deforestation rose in 2015 for the first time in nearly a decade, The New York Times reported.
The recent investigation included satellite photography from an environmental group tracking deforestation. Though the companies deny deforestation links, aerial imagery shows that the two biggest areas of deforestation were in regions where Cargill and Bunge are the only known traders.
“But if a farmer has burned down its forest we’ll not source from that grower,” a Cargill corporate affairs leader told The New York Times.
Reports linking Cargill to renewed deforestation contradict the company’s public promise to eliminate the destruction of forests for industrial food production. In September 2014, Cargill endorsed The New York Declaration on Forests at the United Nations Climate Summit, a pledge to halve deforestation by 2020 and completely end it by 2030.