Sat, Sep 01, 2018 - Page 9 News List

Soy boom devours Brazil’s tropical savanna

Concerted efforts have been made to protect the Amazon rainforest, pushing the agriculture business and its environmental implications to the cerrado, its neighboring grassland

By Jake Spring  /  Reuters, CAMPOS LINDOS, Brazil

Walmart and Unilever said they are committed to achieving zero net deforestation in their supply chains by 2020, meaning any destruction in one region would be offset by recuperation of similar forest elsewhere.

Walmart said all its beef suppliers in the cerrado are monitored to ensure they do not contribute to deforestation there.

McDonalds did not respond to a request for comment.

Separately, the Netherlands-based Louis Dreyfus Co in June became the first major commodity trader to pledge to stop buying soy from newly deforested land specifically in the cerrado.

The company gave no timetable, but said it would work to establish a “realistic target date” to end deforestation in its cerrado supply chain.

Former Brazilian minister of environment Jose Sarney Filho, who recently left office to run for the Senate, has proposed an international effort to compensate landowners who preserve natural habitat.

He raised the issue in November last year at the global climate summit in Germany, but the effort has yet to attract major backers.

Meanwhile, Pansera sees big things ahead for his patch of the cerrado.

Supervising the harvest on his land earlier this year, he watched a pair of combines chew through rows of soybean plants. The giant machines stripped away the beans and spit them into empty grain trucks rolling just behind to catch the bounty.

He said there is no future without growth, and the frontier region of Matopiba is just getting started. He plans to plant an additional 180 hectares of soy next year on newly cleared land.

“There is still a large area to be opened,” Pansera said. “It will be one of the great centers of Brazilian agriculture.”

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