Soy Cultivation Is Bearing Slavery in Brazil, Says Report

The report "Eating the Amazon," released by the Greenpeace International non-government organization shows that, besides devastating the forest, the advance of soybean production in the Brazilian Amazon stimulates the exploitation of slave labor in the region.

That’s because poor residents of rural areas and urban peripheries are taken to remote Amazon regions to perform slave labor in areas of illegal deforestation.

One of the recommendations made by Greenpeace International in its report is for the US multinational corporations, Cargill, Bunge, and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), to sign the National Pact to Eradicate Slave Labor.

The idea is for these companies to pledge to buy soybeans only from farms with legal property deeds, without illegal deforestation, and without the use of slave labor.

"The states in the Amazon that are in the vanguard of soybean expansion also rank at the top of the sad Brazilian statistics reporting cases of slave labor on ranches, fields, and forest areas," says the report.

The advance of soybean production also does harm to indigenous populations and traditional communities forced to abandon the lands where they live to make way for farming operations.

The pollution caused by the intensive use of pesticides in soybean monocultural plantations also causes damage to the rural population, Greenpeace asserts.

According to the environmental activist organization, "the villains of the Brazilian soybean industry are the three US multinationals in the agribusiness sector: Cargill, Bunge, and Archer Daniel Midland (ADM).

The companies offer advantages, such as credit and a guaranteed market, to the farmers, "giving them incentives and resources to buy and clear huge extensions of land in order to make soybean production profitable."

With respect to slave labor, the study points to the association between the multinationals and soybean farms where this type of labor is employed.

One of them is the Roncador Farm in Querência, Mato Grosso state, where, between 1998 and 2004, government inspectors freed 215 workers subjected to slave conditions, according to Greenpeace.

"Although the owners of the farm are being sued, the Roncador farm continues to plant soybeans for the market. Both Cargill and Bunge set up operations in Querência, and Bunge registered exports from the region in 2005," the document charges.

Agência Brasil

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