A manifesto calling for an end to the destruction of forests and native vegetation in Brazil’s Cerrado caused by soy production has been signed by 23 global companies this week.
Retailers and fast food giants including Unilever, Marks and Spencer, Waitrose, and McDonald’s have signed the resolution, which has been endorsed by The Roundtable on Responsible Soy [RTRS] – an organization working with more than 32,000 soy businesses ensuring that soy production is responsible.
Following a series of high-level meetings in London and Brussels, other companies have signed up to the statement.
As part of the manifesto, the statement brings to light that between 2013 and 2015, every two months during that time, an area of the Cerrado the size of London disappeared.
The manifesto also emphasizes that Cerrado is the world’s most biodiverse savannah, which has already lost 50 percent of its original area – and this, according to experts, will lead to a catastrophic extinction of species.
The area holds five percent of the world’s biodiversity, and also stores the equivalent of 13.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide.
The main cause of conversion, reads the manifesto, is the expansion of agribusiness.
It is important to note that soy is mainly used to feed livestock.
According to soyatech.com: “About 85 percent of the world’s soybean crop is processed into meal and vegetable oil, and virtually all of that meal is used in animal feed.
“Some two percent of the soybean meal is further processed into soy flours and proteins for food use… Approximately six percent of soybeans are used directly as human food, mostly in Asia.”
RTRS board member Lieven Callewaert told news outlet Food Navigator that ‘it is fantastic the manifesto is raising awareness of what is happening in the Brazilian Cerrado with brands and retailers’.
Callewaert also mentioned it is important to stress that ‘further soy cultivation in the Cerrado can take place on already cleared land’, and that ‘production would not threaten critical areas of natural vegetation’.
He went on to say that critical issues now are the supply and demand fundamentals: “Currently, availability of RTRS certified soy is greater than demand.
Cargill and Bunge
Glenn Hurowitz, CEO of campaigning organization Mighty Foods, calls on agribusinesses such as Cargill and Bunge to sign the resolution.
“Now is up to the agribusinesses that dominate the global soy trade to act on this strong call from their customers,” he says.
“In particular, Cargill and Bunge have been most responsible for deforestation across the continent.
“We hope they will respond to their customers’ demand for environmentally responsible raw materials, and extend their own success in fighting deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon to the rest of Latin American.”