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Action Alert: Global Ecological Emergency: Brazil Must Succeed in Keeping Soybeans Out of Amazon

Only soy products that do not directly or indirectly destroy ancient rainforests, or intensify climate change and other problems inherent with large-scale industrial monocultures, will be tolerated in international markets

By, a project of EcoInternet - February 12, 2008

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Additional Background

The greatest emerging threat to Amazon rainforests and communities is industrial soy plantations. Huge mechanized, soy monocultures destroy tropical ecosystems, accelerate climate change and cause human rights abuses primarily to produce agrofuel and livestock feed. The soya industry wipes out biodiversity, destroys soil fertility, pollutes freshwater and displaces communities. Soybean production expands the agricultural frontier not only through fire and deforestation to clear ancient rainforests, but more importantly by pushing cattle ranches and displacing forest peoples further into natural rainforest ecosystems.

Biodiesel made from soya oil is taking over huge areas of Brazil's farmland, savannah and forest, with harvests surging from 1.5 million tons in 1970 to 57m in 2006. Soy production has already destroyed 21 million hectares of forest in Brazil, and 80 million hectares, including portions of the Amazon basin, remain that are suitable. As currently scaled, configured and given expected growth, industrial soy monocultures can never be environmentally sustainable, and indeed may push the Amazon into wide-scale die-back while causing abrupt, run-away warming. Destruction of the Amazon forest is expected to increase the rate of global warming by 50 percent, while causing countless species to go extinct.

Agrofuel based biodiesel will never satisfy more than a fraction of global energy demand yet threatens the Planet’s remaining natural ecosystems. A new scientific report shows plant based biofuels are no climate change solution because they directly or indirectly, intentionally or not, result in land clearing releasing huge amounts of carbon dioxide. Clearing rainforests generally releases 86 times more carbon than the annual agrofuel benefit, and Amazon soybeans have a "carbon debt" of 319 years. Agribusiness giants including Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge and Cargill are amongst those producing and marketing soy while devastating Amazonian ecosystems.

The Brazilian government had trumpeted 50% reductions in Amazonian deforestation over past years. These decreases are now recognized as resulting from temporary declines in agricultural markets rather than fundamental change in deforestation rates. With rising soy and other agricultural commodity prices, there has been a marked increase in fires and Amazonian deforestation to clear new agricultural lands from primary rainforests. In reaction Brazil has again announced increased agricultural deforestation enforcement, including banning the sale of farm products from illegally deforested areas, and imposing fines for buying or trading illegally produced soy and beef, with military enforcement.

Amazon rainforest sustainability critically depends upon new soybean production being kept out of ancient primary rainforest ecosystems. Further, soy's environmental sustainability and social justness depends upon respecting rights of local peoples including their food sovereignty, ensuring local land bases and water resources are not exceeded, halting all new industrial soy monocultures in order to properly scale agricultural development, and stopping the use of toxics.

The alert below encourages the Brazilian government to persist in efforts to end soy production dependent upon rainforest destruction. Let the government and agribusiness know that soybean products that cause ancient rainforest destruction and result in damage to biodiversity, climate, and communities will not be tolerated in the international marketplace. Let's continue the commitment of Ecological Internet's Earth Action Network to strongly speak ecological truth to intransigent power.

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Keep Soybeans Out of Rainforests
Bad for Brazil and the Earth: Natural ecosystems cleared by soybean farmers  (link)

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