The Amazon Soy Moratorium – originally launched in 2006 for two years, and renewed annually since 2008 – has been extended indefinitely by the Brazilian Soy Task Force (GTF). The GTF is a multi-stakeholder coalition that brings together the private sector, civil society and Brazilian government.

The Amazon Soy Moratorium guarantees market access only to soy products that are free from deforestation, slave labor or threats to indigenous lands. It was the first voluntary zero-deforestation agreement implemented in the tropics, and set the stage for supply chain governance of other commodities, according to the journal Science. Soy, palm oil, cattle and wood are the top four commodities that are most responsible for tropical deforestation on a grand scale, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The new agreement was signed by the Brazilian Ministry, the Soy Working Group (GTS – Grupo de Trabalho da Soja), the Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oils Industry (ABIOVE), Brazil’s National Association of Grain Exporters (ANEC) and Greenpeace.

In a recent joint press release, FEDIOL, the EU vegetable oil and protein meal industry association, and FEFAC, the European Compound Feed Manufacturers’ Federation, praised the renewal of the moratorium.

“The Soy Moratorium has proved to be effective in reducing deforestation in the Amazon as a consequence of soybean and we therefore welcome its indefinite renewal,” said Henri Rieux, FEDIOL president.

FEFAC and FEDIOL consider that ending illegal deforestation through ensuring legal compliance with national regulation is the first step toward forest protection. This represents a valuable contribution of the FEFAC Soy Sourcing Guidelines which are also supported by FEDIOL.

“The guidelines are in line with, for example, the current Brazilian Forest Code, which together with the federal monitoring of farms under rural environmental registration (CAR), can be considered a breakthrough in terms of environmental legislation enforcement and enabling responsible soy production,” said FEFAC President Ruud Tijssens.

A May 2016 WATTAgNet report said there are nine global soy programs that meet FEFAC’s recommendations for responsibly sourced soybeans.

FEFAC and FEDIOL said they are convinced that zero net deforestation can only be achieved by regional actions, taking all agricultural activities in a certain region into account, and encourage such developments.

Praise for action

The indefinite extension of the moratorium has been received positively by many groups worldwide.

“The renewal of the moratorium indefinitely ensures producers and trading companies can continue to rely on forest-friendly Amazon soy to keep the doors to the global market open, even in times of environmental and political-economic crisis,” said Greenpeace’s Paulo Adario in a statement. “We, at the Soy Working Group, gain resilience to continue towards a permanent tool that combines production and forests conservation and the protection of the peoples who live in the Amazon.”

Dr. Holly Gibbs, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who has extensively researched the moratorium, praised the soy industry.

“The soy industry should be applauded for their leadership and enduring commitment to continue soy production while also protecting the Amazon rainforest,” Gibbs told WATT via email. “The (soy moratorium) was the first major zero-deforestation commitment, and it is very impressive that the industry continues to be at the forefront of efforts to de-link food production from deforestation.”

Brazil’s production of soy – the country’s most profitable crop – has doubled in the past six years, but only .8 percent of deforestation in the Amazon can be attributed to soy. Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is down approximately 80 percent as measured annually since its peak in 2004, according to a report from Mongabay. It said Brazilian soy exports were worth $31 billion in 2015.