Brazil’s controversial soy crop moratorium bears fruit

According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, a new study has shown how the country’s eight year moratorium on soya has helped to “drastically reduce the amount of deforestation linked to soy production in the region and was much better at curbing it than governmental policy alone.” 

8 year soya moratorium – The Results

Under Brazil’s soy moratorium, major trading companies have not been buying soya beans from the Brazilian Amazon’s recently deforested areas. The decision came after a report from Greenpeace and an increase in consumer pressure, which led big brands like McDonald’s and Wal-Mart to stop buying soy grown on cleared Amazonian forestland. Their move put immediate pressure on commodity market traders, who in turn also agreed to stand by the moratorium.

It’s a classic case of money talking. It might sound cynical but let’s face it – what else but hard economics and financial gain would have persuaded the money markets to act for the planet’s common good?

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s study hows how the moratorium helped reduce the amount of deforestation linked to soy production in the region “drastically”, and was in fact much more effective than government policy. Before the moratorium 30% of soy crop expansion was facilitated by deforestation, now there’s only around 1% new deforestation undertaken to grow soya.

  • Pre-moratorium, from 2001 to ’06, Brazilian Amazon soy fields expanded by almost 4000 square miles
  • Eight years into the moratorium, almost no additional forest has been cleared to grow soya
  • The reduction took place despite an increasing demand for soya. Instead, farmers planted the cop on land that had already been cleared instead of clearing new land

Why do the results of the moratorium matter?

Why is it important? Because the results will help drive new, more effective deforestation prevention policies.

Brazil already enjoys some of the world’s most powerful environmental legislation. They’ve already gone a long way to slow the destruction of their precious rainforests. Now we know the actual, real-life effects a moratorium can have on the behaviour of farmers and investors, and how it compares with government conservation policies.


Article by The Rainforest Foundation

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