FOUR PAWS team Document the Arrival of The World’s Largest Soy Shipment
The huge environmental impacts of South American soy imports used as animal feed in European factory farms
Burning through the lungs of our planet
We all remember the headlines from the hot summer months last year. Newspapers and social media lit up about the burning Amazon rainforest and world leaders criticised American governments for their inaction on this catastrophe. On August 23rd, 2019, we at FOUR PAWS joined the protest and urged our supporters to sign the #industriestakeaction petition. Back then, we were often asked why FOUR PAWS, an animal welfare organisation, works to protect the rain forest.
The answer is simple. The large majority of forest fires don’t arise by chance. They are deliberately set by locals to clear land and make room for cattle farming and soybean production. It is those same soybeans that are then shipped to Europe to be used as feed for the animals kept in European factory farms. Investigations from the Guardian have shown that the European cheap meat industry is directly linked to the fires in the Amazon. Not only do European factory farms cause the suffering of billions of farm animals, they also actively contribute to the destruction of our planet’s lungs which absorbs around 15% of global carbon dioxide and provides a home to millions of unique species of plants, animals and insects1.
The worst fire in a decade – happening right now!
It is 2020 now and almost nobody is mentioning the forest fires, anymore. Although FOUR PAWS continues to inform regularly, the attention of the news media seems to be elsewhere. Surely this means that world leaders have stepped up as promised and the problem is being taken care of?
Sadly, the opposite is true. Right now, Brazil is experiencing the worst fires in years. Compared to last year, the quantity of fires has increased by another 13%, reaching a total of almost 30,000 active fires2. According to FOUR PAWS policy experts, the planned trade deal between the EU and the South American Mercosur countries is likely to make matters worse. Scientists estimate that already 20% of European soybean imports from Brazil come from deforested lands, a number that is likely to increase under the EU Mercosur trade deal3. However, equally concerning, is that nobody knows where any specific soy import actually comes from and whether it is linked to deforestation or not. Investigations from the Guardian show that soy from South America is impossible to trace and by that, a larger import of soy products due to the Mercosur trade deal means that the EU becomes increasingly more complicit in the ongoing destruction of the amazon rainforest4.
Biggest shipment to ever reach Europe
To showcase how the international soy trade is already picking up speed, in July 2020, FOUR PAWS investigators documented what is believed to be the biggest soy shipment ever to reach Europe. After successfully tracking the almost 300m long ship for several weeks all the way from Brazil to the Netherlands, our campaigners recorded the arrival of over 100,000 tons of raw soy. To put this number into perspective, this shipment alone is enough to fill around 3,500 trucks and the production used up an area of around 70,000 football fields. According to WWF Netherlands, the large majority of soy imported to Amsterdam is further distributed into EU countries, where it is used as animal feed in factory farms.
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As mentioned earlier, we do not know where the soy from this shipment comes from. It is sheerly impossible to trace. But this is exactly why we need a strong European law to make the international soy trade more transparent and imports more traceable. European farming needs to rely on locally produced grains and focus on the welfare of animals!
This is why FOUR PAWS, alongside more than 130 other NGOs, has joined the together4forest initiative to prevent further destruction to our forests driven by European factory farms! Read more here.