Brazil soybean suppliers linked to deforestation, violence and slavery finds its way to Norwegian salmon supply chain

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Soybean producers linked to slavery, violent conflict and illegal deforestation in their home country supplying to Norwegian fish farms according to new research.

Dagbladet first covered the report prepared by the Future In Our Hands and the Rainforest Foundation, which was assisted in collaboration with Reporter Brazil.

The 42-page report focused on the soy production chain of three trading companies: Caramuru, Selecta and Imcopa that play a key role in supplying fish feed to Norway’s salmon industry

Aquafeed
SalmonBusiness understands that its only these three suppliers that guarantee GM-free soy protein concentrate (SPC), which is why they were chosen by Norwegian salmon farmers and aquafeed producers.

Norway imported SPC extracted from 670,000 tons of soy in 2015, for use in aquafeed. Ninety-four per cent of this soy came from Brazil.

According to the newspaper, companies are accused of using slave labour, being involved in violent land conflicts, illegal deforestation, using illegal pesticides, as well as cultivating soya in indigenous territories amongst other crimes highlighted in the report.

All these problems are directly or indirectly related to the soy business network that links Brazil to the Norwegian market.

Absolutely unacceptable
Anja Bakken Riise, who heads the Future In Our Hands, told the publication that she expected Norwegian authorities to focus on sustainable raw materials, while aquafeed producers phase out using soy.

“The Brazilian soy that ends up in Norwegian aquafeed comes from companies that obviously do not control or take responsibility for the serious overtakes that occur in their own supply chain. It is completely unacceptable, ” said Riise.

Serious accusations
Dagbladet contacted Marine Harvest, Cargill, Polarfeed, Biomar and Skretting. Each company said that they took the findings very seriously.

“We are very serious about the accusations presented in the report from the Rainforest Foundation and the Future in our Hands. If this is correct, there is a clear breach of both our “Code of Conduct for Suppliers”, which all suppliers must follow, and our “Feed Policy”, confirmed Marine Harvest Communications Manager, Ola Helge Hjetland, adding “we will now carefully review the documentation and address this with our suppliers as soon as possible.”

Jan Sverre Røstad, Vice President of Biomar, said they traded from all three companies, but to a lesser extent.

“We have not seen the report, but if the findings appear to be true, this is serious. Brazil has long been the only market that has been able to offer non-genetically modified soya, the only permitted alternative for Norway. Røstad expalied that the company had no other option, as they are among the only soybean producers that guaranteeing GM-free soy. He also emphasised that the company has been working to find alternative sources to reduce dependence on Brazilian soy.

Disputing the charges
Selecta wrote in an e-mail to Dagbladet that they strongly contest the charges and believe what the report says is incorrect.

According to the report, a long-standing main supplier to Imcopa produces soybeans in various indigenous peoples territories. Eliane Almeida, a spokesperson for Imcopa, said that the supplier is responsible for less than three percent of the total amount of soybean Imcopa provides.

To date, Caramuru has not answered Dagbladet’s call to reply to the accusations.