The World Bank’s commercial lending arm is being urged to stop financing Ecuador’s largest factory farm.
A coalition of NGOs has sent a letter to the board of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) requesting it vote against a $50 million loan for the expansion of Pronaca.
It is also asking the public to get involved in urging the corporation to defund the livestock sector.
Public health concerns
Since 2004, the IFC has provided Pronaca with at least $120 million in loans.
The meat giant has used the financing to expand its operations. Now, it has more than 30 pork and poultry farms in the Ecuadorian province of Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas.
An investigation conducted by Mongabay, in collaboration with The Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, found local communities had been negatively impacted by the expansion.
Residents claim waste from the animals eventually ends up in their rivers. This then tainted the water with fecal coliform bacteria, causing skin, gastrointestinal, and respiratory issues.
Other complaints filed include ‘foul odor emanating from the pig farms’ and negative impacts on a buffer forest.
‘Stop funding factory farms’
Merel van der Mark is the head of animal welfare and finance at Sinergia Animal, one of the NGOs spearheading the conversation attempts with IFC.
In a statement sent to PBN, she said: “As a public financial institution, the IFC’s investments must be guided by public interest.
“This is not what is happening, quite the opposite. It’s time for this financial institution to stop funding the expansion of factory farms like it is planning to do with Pronaca.”
In 2010, local communities filed an official complaint against Pronaca over climate concerns. However, the complaint was closed without proper investigation and with no reached agreement.
Despite the lack of environmental permits, the IFC financed Pronaca again in 2013.
“It’s deeply concerning that from its disclosure page about the Pronaca loan… It’s clear that the IFC does not require Pronaca to consult with surrounding communities and obtain their support, let alone their consent for this project,” van der Mark added.
Sinergia Animal and partner organizations Feedback, the Global Forest Coalition, and Friends of the Earth have already sent two letters to the IFC.
They have asked the corporation to commit to divest from the industrial livestock sector. The letters cite evidence ‘that proves the sector fuels the climate crisis; is a major cause of social problems, poor animal welfare, deforestation, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, water, and air pollution; and increases the risk of antibiotic resistance and new pandemics’.
‘A fundamental shift in our food systems’
“It will be impossible to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals without a fundamental shift in our food systems. We should move away from industrial livestock systems and towards more sustainable and plant-based systems”, van der Mark pointed out.
“The IFC should take the scientific evidence to heart. And, be true to its commitment to achieving the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement goals to mitigate climate change.
“We expect the IFC’s board not only to vote against further investments in this controversial Pronaca project. But, also, to halt all finance to the industrial livestock sector.
“Instead, they should finance and facilitate a transition to sustainable food systems that use agroecological and sustainable farming practices.”
*This article was produced in partnership with Sinergia Animal