Greenpeace slams US commodities giant for Amazon crimes
Cargill's European facilities closed down to stop Amazon soya trade
London/Paris 22 May 2006 - To mark the UN's International Day for Biological Diversity today, Greenpeace activists continued their global actions against the world's largest privately-owned company, US commodities giant, Cargill, for destroying the Amazon rainforest to grow soya to feed Europe's farm animals.
This morning, 18 activists in Orléans, France, closed down a Cargill-owned Sun Valley factory. Many of the million chickens which Sun Valley supplies to supermarkets and fast food restaurants across Europe every week are fed on Amazon soya. In Surrey, UK, Greenpeace dumped nearly four tonnes of soya at the entrance of Cargill's European Headquarters where Cargill managers organise the shipping of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of Amazon soya to Europe. Several activists chained themselves to a gate to prevent the company's 300 employees gaining access to the site.
Greenpeace Amazon campaign co-ordinator, Thomas Henningsen, said: "Most people have never even heard of this company, but its playing a part in one of the great environmental tragedies of our time. The Amazon is one of the most bio-diverse areas on Earth and we need it to stabilise the planet's climate, but this company is trashing the rainforest to grow soya to feed Europe's farm animals. We'll stay here until Cargill agrees to a moratorium to stop destroying the Amazon rainforest. Until it does, companies like KFC, Tesco and Albert Heijn should avoid buying Cargill's Amazon-fed products."
Today's protests followed a series of tense protests in the over the weekend in the Brazilian city of Santarem, in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, where Cargill has illegally contructed a soya export facility. On Friday, a team of climbers from the Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise, shut down the facility. Cargill workers acted violently during the protest, ramming a Greenpeace inflatable boat and the Arctic Sunrise with their powerful tugboat. Three activists were injured, with one sustaining a broken finger and another suffering burns after having a firework launched at him. On Sunday, over a thousand people from Santarem joined Greenpeace and other non-governmental organisations reacted by taking to the streets of Santarem in protest against Cargilll's destruction of the Amazon.
Recent Greenpeace investigations (1) discovered that Cargill's crimes stretch from their illegal operations in the Amazon across the entire European food industry. Many of biggest poultry companies in Europe, including Cargill-owned Sun Valley Foods which supplies some of the most prominent European supermarkets and fast food restaurants, are using Cargill soya imported direct from the Amazon rainforest. Soya farmers supplying Cargill are linked to the use of slave labour, illegal land grabbing and massive deforestation.
Cargill is a US-based international food and agricultural commodity giant and is leading the soya invasion of the Amazon (2). 1.2 million hectares of what used to be rainforest have already - mostly illegally - been destroyed to grow soybeans. Forest clearance by burning is endangering the world's climate and destroying the habitat of indigenous peoples, as well as plants and animals in the most biologically important rainforest on earth.
Greenpeace is calling on Cargill and the European food industry to ensure that the animal feed they buy does not contribute to the destruction of the Amazon and that none of their soya products are genetically engineered (3). In a meeting with Greenpeace this month, Cargill refused to stop its operations in the Amazon.
Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation that uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force solutions essential to a green and peaceful future.
Notes to Editors:
(1) Details on that can be found in the report "Eating up the Amazon". A copy is available on: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/eating-up-the-amazon. A shorter crime file about Cargill is available on: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/cargill-amazon
(2) Cargill, together with Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Bunge, controls 60% of soya production in Brazil and more than three-quarters of Europe's soya crushing industry that supplies soya meal and oil to the animal feed market. (0) (0)
(3) Cargill is a major player in genetically engineered (GE) soya and has bought GE soya grown in some Amazon regions. On 14th May a ship, Tonga, loaded with GE soya arrived in Brest, France from the Brazilian port of Paranagua, which is struggling to hold on to its GE free status. She was the first ship to bring GE soya from Paranagua into France and was chartered by Cargill.