The global agriculture giant Cargill has admitted that commodities companies will not meet their stated goal of stopping deforestation for farmland by 2020.
Cargill was among more than 50 companies that signed up to the New York Declaration on Forests in 2014, agreeing to eliminate the conversion of forests for the production of soybeans, palm oil, paper and beef by next year. However, in a blogpost, the company’s chief executive officer Dave MacLennan admitted that the pledge is likely to fail.
“Despite our collective efforts, industry is poised to fall short of a 2020 goal to eliminate deforestation in key supply chains, including beef, soy and palm oil. That is hard for me to admit – but it is not a reason to stop taking critical action,” MacLennan said.
Last week, Greenpeace warned that the pledge would fail, and said that consumer goods companies would be responsible for the destruction of 50 million hectares of forests between 2010 and 2020.
Deforestation for soy production in Brazil’s Cerrado region has proved particularly difficult to stop, Cargill said. The country’s new government under Jair Bolsonaro has promised to remove environmental protections and support the agriculture sector’s expansion.
MacLennan said that Cargill cannot solve the challenges in Brazil alone, and that unilaterally deciding to stop sourcing soy from the Cerrado region would simply push farmers to sell to other buyers.
“We will convene the best and brightest minds to identify innovative solutions to end deforestation, starting with the soy industry in Brazil,” he said. “It will take collective action to solve this problem, not merely shift it to another company’s supply chain.”
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