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ClientEarth Communications

4th May 2023


Cargill closely linked to deforestation in the Amazon. So we took action.

The Amazon rainforest is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. It is home to jaguars, pink river dolphins and spider monkeys and 10% of the world’s known species but because of deforestation it is now dangerously close to a tipping point from which it may never recover.

Agricultural expansion is the primary driver of deforestation in Brazil as vast stretches of land are cleared to make way for large-scale cattle ranches and soy plantations. The destruction of large areas of the Amazon as well as the neighboring Atlantic Forest and Cerrado savannah can be closely linked to Cargill - one of the world’s largest food companies.

Cargill is the largest exporter of Brazilian soy and acts as an intermediary between farmers and major global food retailers. It claims to have a sophisticated monitoring verification and reporting system to end deforestation related to soy production in its supply chains. However, our analysis of its public policies and reporting documents tells a different story – one of serious failings that we say put the company in breach of the OECD Guidelines.

So we took action.

We submitted a complaint that alleges that Cargill has breached the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)’s guidelines on responsible and sustainable business practice.

Specifically, Cargill does not appear to conduct:

  • Proper environmental due diligence on soy bought from other cooperatives and traders, as opposed to directly from farmers, which makes up 42% of all Brazilian soy it purchases;
  • Any environmental due diligence on soy owned by other companies that passes through its ports;
  • Any environmental due diligence for indirect land use change, that is ecosystem conversion that has been displaced from Cargill’s supply chains to other areas;
  • Proper environmental due diligence on soy sourced from the Cerrado savanna, despite the massive rate of deforestation there and its environmental importance; nor,
  • Any due diligence for soy sourced from the Atlantic Forest – a global biodiversity hotspot and an important region for conservation.

Our complaint also alleges that Cargill does not appear to have adequate policies and systems in place to address human rights impacts related to its soy operations in Brazil, even though it has been linked to cases of rights violations.

We cannot protect the Amazon, Atlantic Forest or the Cerrado savanna from further destruction if the big agribusinesses operating in these vital ecosystems are not taking the necessary steps to minimize their role in destroying them.

Given Cargill’s market influence, know-how and massive resources, it should have systems and policies that keep deforestation and ecosystem conversion, and related human rights abuses, out of its supply chain and therefore out of our everyday foods. It’s in the company’s best long-term interests to put this into action.

Get the latest updates on the case