Today, the state of New York announced that, after negotiations with the global agribusiness conglomerate Archer Daniels Midland, ADM will adopt a no-deforestation policy for soy and palm oil.
This is really freaking good news, and it comes at a critical time. There is some evidence that, after years of progress, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is increasing again. Meanwhile, people have been cutting down the forests just outside the Brazilian Amazon — in Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, and in Brazil’s Cerrado region — where there has been less pressure to stop. The move from ADM will provide a clear warning to farmers who are considering the costs and benefits of clearing more land.
ADM laid out a specific set of commitments and a plan for implementation. This announcement is the latest in a cascade of no-deforestation commitments set off when Wilmar, the largest palm-oil company, pledged to stop buying from suppliers who cut down rainforest. ADM owns 16 percent of Wilmar.
“ADM has a steadfast commitment to the development of traceable and transparent agricultural supply chains that protect forests worldwide,” wrote Victoria Podesta, ADM’s chief communications officer, in an email. “We are confident that our No Deforestation policy is both strong and appropriate for our company.”
Last year, another agribusiness, Cargill, announced a plan to stop buying all commodities that caused deforestation. While this ADM commitment is more narrowly focused on soy and palm oil, it applies more stringent rules than the Cargill pledge, said Ben Cushing, spokesperson for the advocacy group Forest Heroes. “For soy, this puts ADM out front,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s any agribusiness company in the world that hasn’t been thinking about how to improve their supply chains as they’ve watched the dominos fall,” Cushing said.
The New York State Common Retirement Fund had asked ADM to take this step. The retirement fund holds $83.1 million in ADM stock. A group of NGOs — Forest Heroes, Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the National Wildlife Federation, SumOfUs, and NRDC — had written to ADM urging the company to make its business more sustainable. Nordic investors and Green Century Capital Management also asked ADM to take action.