Dozens of organizations and social movements call for the boycott of 'Cargill's attempt to greenwash its image'

Manifesto contests Cargill's call for proposals for socio-environmental initiatives while supports enviromental crimes

Translated by: Ana Paula Rocha

Brasil de Fato | Rio de Janeiro |
Kayapó Mekragnotire people protest against the Ferrogrão project in 2020 - Instituto Kabu/Divulgação

A document signed jointly by 55 civil society organizations and grassroots movements calls for a boycott of the "Semeia Fundação Cargill 2024" (“Sow Cargill Foundation 2024”, in a rough translation) call for proposals, launched by the multinational company that leads the agribusiness sector in Brazil.

Opposing the company’s stated aim of “supporting socio-environmental initiatives and impact businesses”, the movements claim that Cargill is trying to “greenwash its public image by funding community socio-environmental projects and supposed impact businesses.”

The manifesto is signed by organizations representing Indigenous peoples, quilombola peoples, extractive workers, fishermen and other traditional communities in the Amazon and Cerrado biomes, and points out the company's contradictions. Cargill is, for instance, one of the enthusiasts of the Ferrogrão project, a railroad which, if built according to the original project, may impact Indigenous lands, conservation units and isolated peoples.

"The real Cargill - considered the world’s second-largest privately-held company - is not defending nature or local communities, but projects of destruction such as Ferrogrão: a 933 kilometers long railroad that may cut the Amazon rainforest in half to further increase the already high production of soy and corn in Mato Grosso and Pará states," says an excerpt from the text.

For the organizations and movements, Cargill’s call for proposals aims to hide the incentive for deforestation, land grabbing, loss of biodiversity and increased use of pesticides through predatory and illegal monoculture.

"By claiming that its mission is to 'promote the prosperity of communities by strengthening safe, sustainable and accessible food systems', the Cargill Foundation deceives consumers worldwide and builds a false idea of a sustainable and 'green' company on the international market," the organizations say. The public manifesto was launched on Wednesday (3). The full document, as well as the list of signatories, can be found at the end of this news story.

The other side

Contacted by Brasil de FatoCargill said it had not been contacted directly and had not received the manifesto. The company said that it “respects the right to freedom of expression of all individuals, encourages an open and constructive dialog that includes all actors of society”, and that it "remains steadfast in its commitment to helping the world thrive.”

The company also pointed out that the Cargill Foundation, founded 50 years ago, works to "promote the prosperity of communities by strengthening safe, sustainable and accessible food systems." According to the company’s official statement, BRL 4.4 million (about US$ 869,000) were invested in 2023, which benefited more than 117,000 people in 18 states across the country.

The statement emphasizes that the company is not participating in the consortium formed for the construction of Ferrogrão, but states that, for Cargill, “rail transportation brings benefits such as safety, efficiency and less environmental impact when compared to road transportation, which contributes to the competitiveness of Brazilian production on international markets.”

Read below the manifesto and the signatories list:

We, the undersigned civil society organizations, social movements and grassroots associations, denounce the "Semeia Fundação Cargill 2024" call for proposals and Cargill's attempt to greenwash its public image by funding community socio-environmental projects and supposed impact businesses. 

For Indigenous peoples, river dweller communities, artisanal fisherpeople, quilombola communities, peasants and various traditional communities in the Amazon and Cerrado biomes, the only thing Cargill is sowing is the violation of rights and death: the company is driving the destruction of these biomes and favoring the global soy and corn complex, directly violating the rights and ways of life of these people through its infrastructure and logistics operations.

The company that claims to care about the environment, healthy food and human rights is the same preventing people from fishing near its port terminals, polluting rivers with its soy boats, and modifying ecosystems and ways of life out of its desire for profit. 

By claiming its mission is to 'promote the prosperity of communities by strengthening safe, sustainable and accessible food systems', the Cargill Foundation deceives consumers worldwide and builds a false idea of a sustainable and 'green' company on the international market. The Cargill that Semeia wants to hide encourages deforestation, land grabbing, the loss of biodiversity, and the use of more and more pesticides by promoting a predatory and illegal monoculture chain, in addition to operating irregular ports in Santarém and Itaituba, and harassing Quilombola territories in Abaetetuba.

Given all this, and considering Cargill's involvement with other violations outside Brazil - from slave and child labor in Mali to corporate conspiracy and racial and gender discrimination in the US - it is urgent that all Brazilian civil society boycott the "Semeia Fundação Cargill 2024" call for proposals. 

If Cargill really wants to "support stories", "cultivate bonds" and "change the future", it should start by respecting Brazilian and international legislations, the rights of the peoples and communities that inhabit the Amazon and the Cerrado biomes, and stop its destructive activities there. 

    1. Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (APIB)
    2. Articulação Pacari Raizeiras do Cerrado 
    3. Articulação Paraense de Agroecologia
    4. Associação Pariri
    5. Associação de Mulheres Trabalhadoras Rurais de Santarém AMTR-STM
    6. Associação Pai Caripetuba
    7. Associação Quilombola do Cumbe/Aracati - CE
    8. Associação Quilombola e Afrodescendente da Restinga 
    9. Amazon Watch
    10. Ação Clima Popular 
    11. Agência 10envolvimento
    12. Cáritas Brasileira Regional Norte II
    13. Centro de Estudos e Defesa do Negro e Negra do Pará (CEDENPA)
    14. Centro de agricultura alternativa do Norte de Minas (CAA/NM)
    15. Centro de Defesa dos Direitos Humanos e da Natureza de Bom Jesus das Selvas (MA) 
    16. Conselho Indígena Tapajós e Arapiuns (CITA) 
    17. Conselho Indígena Tupinambá (CITUPI)
    18. Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT)
    19. Conselho Indigenista Missionário - Santarém (CIMI-STM)
    20. Conselho Munduruku e Apiaká do Planalto
    21. Coletivo de Mulheres Indígenas As Karuana
    22. Coletivo Toca Mamulengo
    23. Comitê de Defesa da Vida Amazônica na bacia do rio Madeira - COMVIDA 
    24. Coordenação das Organizações Indígenas da Amazônia Brasileira - COIAB
    25. FASE Programa Amazônia 
    26. Federação dos Povos e Organizações Indígenas do Mato Grosso (FEPOIMT)
    27. Fórum da Amazônia Oriental - FAOR 
    28. Grupo de Pesquisa de História Indígena e do Indigenismo na Amazônia (GT HINDIA/UFPA)
    29. GT Infraestrutura e justiça socioambiental (GT Infra)
    30. Guardiões do Bem viver 
    31. Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos (Inesc) 
    32. Instituto KABU 
    33. Instituto Raoni
    34. Idec - Instituto de Defesa de Consumidores
    35. Instituto Ambiental Viramundo
    36. Instituto Internacional Arayara 
    37. International Rivers 
    38. Maparajuba Direitos Humanos na Amazônia
    39. Movimento Tapajós Vivo 
    40. Movimento Xingu Vivo
    41. Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens - MAB
    42. Movimento dos Pequenos Agricultores - MPA
    43. Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra - MST
    44. Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto - MTST
    45. Movimento em defesa dos territórios 
    46. Movimento SOS Chapada dos Veadeiros 
    47. Movimento Xingu Vivo para Sempre
    48. Movimento dos pescadores e pescadoras artesanais - MPP
    49. Mulheres em movimento das ilhas de Abaetutuba 
    50. Plataforma dos Movimentos Sociais por Outro Sistema Político 
    51. Rede de Agroecologia do Trairão
    52. Rede de Notícias da Amazônia
    53. Rede Feminista de Saúde Direitos Sexuais e Direitos Reprodutivos
    54. Robert F. Kennedy Direitos Humanos 
    55. Terra de Direitos

Edited by: Matheus Alves de Almeida