Friday, 17 July 2009

Cargill Versus environs

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Greenpeace Brazil, May 19, 2006
A quick translation by David Hathaway
See pictures and original Portuguese text at:

Greenpeace blocks Cargill soybean shipment and is attacked by the company and soybean growers

This Friday morning, Greenpeace blocked the Cargill port in Santarém and stopped the loading of Amazon-grown soybeans. The company's activities were stymied for three and a half hours. The soybeans, to be exported to Europe for animal feed, are grown in deforested areas of the Amazon rainforest. Moreover, Cargill's port in Santarém was built illegally (1).

Five climbers went to the top of the ports bridges and stayed there until they were violently expelled by the multinational's guards. Three Greenpeace members were wounded: one North American activist who fell from the bridge while holding a banner that said "Fora Cargill" (Cargill Out), one activist who was thrown in the watter, and a German photographer who was hit by a flare in the chest. A group of 16 Greenpeace activists was arrested by the police, including Waldemar Wichmann, captain of the Greenpeace ship, and Paulo Adário, coordinator of the Amazon campaign. No soybean growers were arrested.

Approximately 40 growers crowded the entrance to the Federal Police office threatening the Greenpeace activists, but were dispersed by the police. Another group invaded the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise and was also removed by the police. In addition, other growers on the pier repeatedly through rocks, sticks and fireworks at the ship, as well as painting scribbled offenses on the hull.

"US companies like Cargill are devouring the Amazon to grow soybeans. The animals fed with these soybeans end up on the shelves of supermarkets and fast-food restaurants in Europe and other countries. Our volunteers will continue their peaceful protests to protect the world's most precious tropical forest, which is being destroyed to feed chickens, pigs and cows," said Paulo Adário, coordinator of Greenpeace's Amazon Campaign.

Soybeans are now a major cause of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. A total area estimated at 1.2 million hectares of what used to be forest has -- most of it illegally -- been destroyed to plant soybeans. The growers are also involved in other criminal activities such as land grabbing and slavery. (2)

Recent Greenpeace investigations summarized in the report "Eating up the Amazon" (3) reveal that Cargill's port is not just illegal in itself but also responsible for transporting soybeans from illegally cleared forest lands to the world market (4). Cargill owns 13 silos in the Amazon biome, more than any other company.

"US companies like Cargill should stop looking at the Amazon as a region to expand their soybean businesses. They should rather see it as one of the world's largest tropical forests, in urgent need of protection," said Gavin Edwards, coordinator of Greenpeace International's forest campaign.

Cargill makes not secret of the fact that it has helped establish soybean growers in the Amazon region, some of whom are involved in other illegal activities as well, such as land grabbing and slavery. The multinational says that now it making efforts to avoid buying soybeans from slave-owning growers, or from those who do massive ilegal clearing of the forest, but, in a meeting with Greenpeace this month the company refused to stop destroying the Amazon.

In the past few weeks, Greenpeace carried out actions in Europe against importers of Cargill's Amazon soybeans, including an attempt to keep soybean ships from unloading in Amsterdam. Greenpeace demands that Cargill and European food companies guarantee that the animal feed they buy will not contribute to the destruction of the Amazon, and that none of their soybean products is genetically modified.


(1) In February 2006, Brazil's second highest court decided against Cargill, ordering the company to obey Brazilian law and to carry out an enviromental impact assessment not only for its port but also for impacts on neighboring regions. Cargill is still appealing that decision.

(2) Cargill is the largest privately-owned company in the US, with anual revenue of $63 billion in 2003. It is by far the world's largest company in the global trade of feed and food grain, including the purchase, transportation and processing of grain, plus the crushing, refining and distribution to the rest of the world.

(3) Uma cópia em inglês do relatório “Eating up the Amazon”, que documenta os problemas da soja na Amazônia está disponível em:

The executive summary in Portuguese can be read at:

An English-language summary on Cargill can be found at:

(4) Em um dos inúmeros casos do relatório, a soja enviada para o terminal tem origem na fazenda Lavras, que está em terras ilegais e parte delas foi desmatada para o cultivo de soja. O Greenpeace tem uma cópia do contrato entre a Cargill e os proprietários das fazendas, os irmãos Cortezia.

1 comment:

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