Cargill and other food giants not on track to end deforestation by 2020

Agribusiness giant Cargill Inc and the broader food industry will fail to meet a goal of eliminating deforestation by 2020, the company said on 13 June.

Cargill’s statement was made in wake of data showing deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, a top supplier of soybeans to Cargill, sped up in May to the fastest rate in a decade, Reuters reported.

The world’s largest consumer brands pledged in 2010 a zero net deforestation goal by 2020, set by global umbrella body the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF).

“Despite our collective efforts, our industry will fall short of a 2020 goal to eliminate deforestation,” said Ruth Kimmelshue, Cargill’s chief sustainability officer.

The CGF said “the forces driving deforestation are more complex than almost any stakeholder realised in 2010”.

Environmentalists had pointed to the easing of environmental protections under Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s five-month-old government as encouraging illegal logging in South America’s largest nation, Reuters wrote.

Greenpeace said at least 50M ha of forest would be destroyed during the 10 years the corporate commitment was valid, and environmentalists said that while global efforts had focused on saving the Amazon, agriculture had led to more destruction of Brazil’s tropical savannah, Reuters said.

Cargill pledged to start a comprehensive risk assessment of its soya supply chain and committed US$30M to find solutions to protect forests and native vegetation in Brazil.