Cargill pushes soy farming that’s obliterating the Amazon

Soy production has overtaken logging and cattle ranching as the main source of Amazon rainforest destruction. In the past three years, nearly 27,000 square miles of the Amazon have been destroyed, nearly three-quarters of it illegally. Much of the acreage was sold to soy producers, financed in large part by agribusiness giant Cargill, the largest privately owned company in the world. Brazil has become the world’s leading exporter of soy; last year, the country produced more than 50 million tons of the protein-rich bean from an area approximately the size of the United Kingdom. In 2004, Brazil was in the top four global greenhouse-gas producers — because of the smoke from burning trees. Brazilian activist Cayetano Scannavino Filao says that in the three years since Cargill opened a port in the city of Santarem, deforestation in the surrounding area has increased 511 percent. “We used to fight the loggers, but the loggers, they eat the Amazon in small bites,” he says. “The soy is eating the Amazon in big bites.”