The soy moratorium may have spared the Amazon, but farmers have moved in elsewhere
Deforestation is not just an Amazonian problem. The Union of Concerned Scientists has pointed to growing forest loss in Gran Chaco, an area that touches Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, as well as Brazil’s Cerrado, a tropical savannah that is succumbing to another commodity, soy.
Brazil is the new frontier in soy production. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that by 2025 the country will be the largest producer of soybeans in the world, with production set to increase from 89 to 136 million tons, the vast majority destined for China.
According to Greenpeace, as much as 90% of the world’s soy is used as animal feed, with soya meal now the world’s most heavily traded agricultural product. In 2006 the Soy Moratorium came into force, which Greenpeace describes as one of its most successful campaigns in Brazil. But while it may have spared the Amazon from the ravages of soy farming, farmers moved in elsewhere.
Soybeans now represent 90% of all agriculture in the Cerrado biome, an area where, between 2000 to 2014, agriculture expanded by 87%, with soy beans particularly well adapted to the region’s acid soils.
In one five-year period, deforesting and burning of the Cerrado released nearly 1.5 million...