A new report released by Mighty Earth looks at global meat production and its impact on the South American rainforest. It investigates soy production by companies such as Cargill and Bunge, soy being an important input into cattle feed. Soy production in Brazil and Bolivia is contributing to serious deforestation. According to the report large scale forest clearing is being undertaken by Bolivian and Brazilian farmers who trade with Cargill.
The organisation used satellite imagery to track deforestation in Brazil where Cargill and Bunge are the only two agricultural traders. In Bolivia satellite imagery is not available but drones were used to survey large areas. Cargill is linked to more than 321,000 acres of deforestation and Bunge is linked to more than 1.4 million acres of deforestation between 2011 and 2015.
All this is happening even though Cargill and other companies signed a landmark deal in 2014, in which all companies aim to eliminate deforestation by 2020. Representatives of Cargill and Bunge both claim that many other companies are also involved, and therefore a general ban on crops from illegally cleared areas and support for sustainable land use techniques is needed. Brazilian government representatives have shown concern about the ongoing deforestation and have announced they want to move forward in limiting deforestation. In contrast, Bolivia’s president puts a primary emphasis on “food sovereignty” and has implemented very few laws to limit ongoing agricultural expansion. Deforestation makes up more than 80% of the whole country’s carbon dioxide emission.1
In 2014 Facing Finance already criticized Cargill in the DIRTY PROFITS 3 report for its half-hearted efforts to limit deforestation, forced and child labor on its palm oil plantations and strong lobbying in African countries to get better access to land, which puts the food security of the local population at high risk. Halting deforestation all over the world as soon as possible is crucial for the environment, as well as meeting carbon emission targets.2
Cargill is one of America’s largest privately held companies, and therefore access to financial information on the company is limited. However, through financial analysis in Dirty Profits 3 it was found that the following banks were involved with Cargill – BNP Paribas, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, ING, HSBC, UBS, and Credit Suisse – between the years 2012 and 2014. While this information is dated it proves an indication that banks are still providing funding to companies such as Cargill who have not signed the UN Global Compact and clearly do not adhere to environmental standards.