Buenos Aires, Argentina July 29th 2004: Greenpeace activists, dressed as jaguars, used motorbikes to track down five more bulldozers that were destroying precious forests in a remote region of Argentina. (1) The forest is being destroyed to grow genetically engineered soya that is shipped to Europe and Asia to feed pigs, chicken and cows.
The ‘jaguars’ located the bulldozers clear cutting and burning the forest while on the prowl in Salta, on the border of the Great Chaco and Yungas forests. Five 'jaguars' used motorbikes to intercept the bulldozers and block their path to the forest. They locked the machines using chains to immobilise them and stamped ‘Blocked by Greenpeace’ on the diggers.
"Argentina’s rich biodiversity is being swallowed up by Monsanto’s genetically engineered soya. The Argentinean Government must intervene and stop these unique jaguar forests being destroyed," said Emiliano Biodiversity Campaign Coordinator, Greenpeace Argentina.
Greenpeace ‘jaguars’ have been tracking down bulldozers since Monday. So far, eight machines remain immobilised and stamped, and the ‘jaguars’ are still on the prowl for more. The sharp increase in soya cultivation (2) is causing social as well as environmental problems in Argentina. Ramón Ferriera, who lives in the Great Chaco forest, said: "They force us to leave our land, often with guns. Then they come with these powerful machines, knock down all the trees, burn them and plant soya. We see no economic benefit from such great destruction and we lose all we have." (3)
5,400 people around the world have telephoned their Argentinean Embassies this week, to demand that Argentinean President, Dr. Néstor Kirchner, stops the forest destruction. (4)
For Monday’s press release, media briefings on the forests, their wildlife and the growth of genetically engineered soya industry in Argentina see http://www.greenpeace.org/international_en/press/
Notes: (1) The Great Chaco American forest covers a million square kilometres, across Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil. The Yungas forest, also known as the 'Clouded' or 'Mountain' rainforest, is located in Argentina alone and covers about seventy thousand square kilometres. Both forests are home to jaguars.
(2) Argentina is planning to grow 14 million hectares of soya this year. 98% of it is genetically engineered and over 90% - around 20 million tonnes - is exported as animal feed to Europe and Asia. Europe accounts for 35% of Argentina's soya exports and China for 23%. See Argentinean Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Fishing and Food http://www.sagpya.mecon.gov.ar
(3) Reported by MOCASE (Peasant Movement of Santiago del Estero Province, July 2003). Indigenous people and 'campesinos' have never been given title deeds to their land by the authorities, despite the fact that they have been living and working in these forests for decades. All the land is State owned. Local authorities often sell it to private owners. Since the indigenous people have no title deeds, they have no legal way to defend their land. Many move to the cities looking for work and end up in living in poverty in the growing slums.
(4) see http://www.greenpeace.org