Cargill Inc. is putting up $30 million to fund new ideas for ending deforestation in Brazil, where the conflict between economic growth and environmental protection attracted global attention.
The Minnesota-based agribusiness, a key player in Brazilian soy production, said Thursday that industry will fail to end deforestation by 2020, and that more companies, governments and organizations need to band together to make a more concerted effort if real solutions are to be found.
"We can all agree, and certainly the science is very clear, the climate is changing and there is an urgent need to take action to end deforestation," Kimmelshue said.
Soybean farming has continued encroaching on important ecosystems in Brazil, leading to the destruction of critical forests and native vegetations. Demand for the crop is growing as the world's appetite for meat grows. Soy is often a base ingredient in livestock feed.
This growing demand encourages many South American farmers to expand their cropland. Cargill is in a powerful position as the world's largest commodities trader and has taken steps in recent years to slow deforestation in those regions.
But it hasn't been enough.
The company, its peers and international organizations will fall short of reaching their goals, said Ruth Kimmelshue, Cargill's head of supply chain and chief sustainability officer.
"I'm not going to admit defeat, but we can all be reasonable people and see that we have significantly more work to do," Kimmelshue said Wednesday morning.
More than a decade ago, the company and its industry peers agreed to a purchase moratorium on soybeans grown on newly deforested land in the Amazon. Cargill also monitors the forest activity using geospatial tools.
In 2014, Cargill signed the United Nations' New York Declaration on Forests, the first global pledge to end and reverse the loss of forests.