USA- An activist group, Global Witness, recently released a report revealing that global commodity trading giant Cargill has been procuring soy from 50,000 acres of deforested land in Bolivia’s Chiquitano Forest. 

The investigation conducted by Global Witness examined Cargill’s soy purchases from five regions in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, farmed by Mennonite colonies. 

These colonies are located in the ecologically significant Chiquitano forest, a transition zone between the tropical Amazon and dry Chaco forests. 

Global Witness estimated that these colonies have deforested nearly 53,000 acres of land since 2017, with three out of five areas sourced by Cargill deemed unsuitable for intensive farming.

The report also suggested that Cargill might be open to sourcing soy from remote parts of Bolivia where forests still stand, potentially putting approximately 3 million hectares of forest at risk.

Veronica Oakeshott, Forests Campaign lead at Global Witness, expressed doubts about Cargill’s sustainability claims, transparency, and traceability, stating, “It seems Cargill is not even trying to identify the origins of its soy.”

In response to these allegations, Cargill reiterated its commitment to ending deforestation in its global agricultural supply chains and eliminating deforestation and conversion in its South American soy supply chain by 2030. 

The company clarified that it sources about 16% of production from the five communities mentioned in the report, with the remaining 84% sold to other market players.

Cargill’s Director of Media Relations, Nicole Marlor, stated, “Cargill has been working closely with Mennonite communities and had already mapped 26 polygons from those five colonies.” 

She added that Cargill can infer that products from at least four of the five colonies could be produced on land deforested before 2017.

The issue of deforestation is critical due to its impact on species diversity, ecosystems, and climate change. Bolivia, home to extensive tropical forests, has seen deforestation rates rivaling those of Brazil and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

This underscores the importance of holding major agribusinesses accountable for their environmental impact.

Leighton offers extensive food and beverage expertise

Meanwhile, Sean Leighton, a seasoned professional with a wealth of experience in the food and beverage industry, has been appointed as the President of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)

As he assumes the presidency at IFT, his background in the food and beverage industry will be crucial in addressing evolving challenges, including sustainability and food safety, aligning with the changing landscape of the industry.

Leighton’s remarkable career includes notable roles at Cargill, Coca-Cola, and Land O’Lakes, setting the stage for his significant impact as the new leader of IFT.

Leighton assumes the presidency of IFT at a time when food safety faces critical challenges. In June, cultivated meat officially made its debut in the U.S. market following approvals from the USDA and FDA, introducing new complexities and food safety considerations. 

Emerging categories like cultivated meat raise important questions, including sterilization guidelines and labeling, that require expert leadership.

The pace of change has never been faster,” Leighton emphasized in an email to Food Dive. “Food is expanding into new and demanding markets. The era of line extensions is drawing to a close, and the demand for ‘new’ foods, such as plant-based proteins, is on the rise. Consumer expectations are also evolving, particularly in terms of transparency and traceability.

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