Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"Brazil Throws Weight Behind Amazon Soy Ban," Reuters, June 19, 2008.

Deforestation of the Amazon is on course to rise after three years of declines, with figures for April released earlier this month showing a startling 434 square miles (1,123 sq km) of trees lost in the month.

BRASILIA - Brazil's new environment minister reached an agreement with the grain processing industry to ban purchases of soy from deforested Amazon until July 2009, winning praise from environmentalists.

"This same initiative will be extended to two other sectors -- the timber sector and the beef sector," Environment Minister Carlos Minc said while praising the grain industry and non-governmental organizations for a "pioneering" initiative.

Environmentalists called Minc's initiative essential to the protection of the world's largest rainforest. Deforestation in the region quickened in the past months as world grain prices continue to set record highs.

The moratorium is a commitment by the local Vegetable Oils Industry Association (Abiove), which includes big crushers such as Cargill Inc, Bunge Ltd, ADM Co and Louis Dreyfus, and the Grain Exporters Association (Anec) to extend the expiring, one-year ban that began in July 2006.

Rising prices are reviving the local soy sector out of its worst crisis in decades. In 2004 through 2006, the rise in the real against the dollar and production costs like fuel and fertilizers pushed many producers to the brink of insolvency.

Brazil is the world's second largest soy producer after the United States. Abiove and Anec control about 94 percent of Brazil's soy trade.

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