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Thu Oct 31, 2019, 06:44 AM

Quelle Surprise! 39% Of China's Purchases Of Brazilian Soy From Illegal Farms; 12% Of EU Purchases

More than 2.6 million hectares (6.4 million acres) of soybean plantations — an area almost the size of Belgium — are cultivated on unregistered lands in the Brazilian Amazon and Cerrado biomes and exported to China and the European Union, according to a report released today by supply chain transparency initiative Trase in partnership with the NGO Imaflora. Mongabay had access to the report ahead of its release.

Considered one of the main drivers of deforestation in the country, soybean is Brazil’s top commodity, with exports valued at more than $33 billion in 2018. But behind this figure are soybean plantations operating on unregistered lands and likely dodging environmental regulations, contributing researcher and agricultural engineer at Imaflora Luis Fernando Guedes Pinto says. In the Amazon rainforest and in the Cerrado savanna, 12 percent of soybean farms still lack land registration. Yet two-thirds of crops from the municipalities with the highest concentration of these blind spots of Brazilian agriculture are exported, mostly to China and Europe, the study shows, exposing importing countries to a high risk of buying irregular soy.


U.S. food processor and commodities trader ADM and China’s COFCO are at a high risk for exporting soybeans to China from unregistered farmlands; Bunge and Cargill, two other U.S. commodities traders, and Brazil’s Amaggi, the world’s biggest private soybean producer, are the main exporters of high-risk soybeans to Europe. Bunge and Cargill declined to comment, deferring to the Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oil Industries (Abiove); ADM, COFCO and Amaggi didn’t reply to requests for comment.

By overlaying their research with satellite data on deforestation from the Brazilian National Institute of Space Research (INPE), the report’s authors also found a strong correlation between the number of unregistered soybean farms and deforestation. “[N]early all the recent deforestation linked to soy expansion has been in the Cerrado and Amazon biomes,” the report notes.



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