Soybean plantations-the new "Amazon forest" spurs changes to environmental practices
jessica.lam | June 18, 2008 at 12:02 pmby
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"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.
"The decision today is very important as it shows a leading sector in Brazilian agribusiness can guarantee food production without the need to cut down one more hectare of Amazon," Paulo Adario, Greenpeace Amazon campaign director, said in a note.
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 of trees lost in the month.
In a show of commitment to Amazon protection, the government unveiled initiatives in past weeks including the creation of three protected reserves and an operation to impound cattle grazing on illegally cleared pastures.
But Greenpeace said a one year extension may not be long enough to build the tools necessary to ensure that soy production does not result in further deforestation.
"Without regulating land use, there is no economic zoning in the Amazon," Minc said.
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