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Cargill Aqua exec: 'No evidence found on slavery, deforestation claims'

The company is proposing collaboration in the Norwegian salmon feed industry to achieve greater transparency in the soy supply chain.

US feed giant Cargill launched several audits following accusations by Norwegian NGOs linking Brazilian suppliers Caramuru, Selecta and Imcopa to slave labor across their supply chains, Adrian Marcon, president at Cargill Aqua Nutrition, told IntraFish.

Besides these allegations, the "Salmon on soy beans - deforestation and land conflict in Brazil" report claimed the companies’ supply chains are tainted with illegal deforestation practices, violent land conflicts, illegal use of pesticides and unlawful use of indigenous people’s land.

The claims by Rainforest Foundation Norway and Framtiden i våre hender are particularly serious since Brazil is the only supplier of non-genetically modified soy, and the three mentioned companies are major suppliers to the Norwegian salmon feed industry.

In 2017, some 282,448 tons of soy protein concentrate (SPC) from Brazil was sold to Norwegian salmon feed producers.

However, Cargill’s audits, which were conducted by both in-house auditors and by DNV-GL, “showed that none of these suppliers are buying soy from farms mentioned in the report,” Adriano Marcon, president Cargill Aqua Nutrition, told IntraFish.

Further to this question, Marcon confirmed that none of the allegations made in the report are verified after the investigations.

“The audits found no evidence that any of our suppliers bought soy from farms engaged in any of such practices,” he said.

The audits focused on 2018 and involved auditing systems that suppliers have had for many years. For example, they showed that all of Cargill suppliers have solid governance in their purchasing process of soybeans and check suppliers against national lists for deforestation within the Amazon Biome list of embargoed areas by the Brazilian Environmental Protection Agency since 2006.

They also audited soy suppliers against lists of companies engaged in slave or degrading labor, Marcon said.

“Our role in the soy supply chain comes with significant responsibility, and we are keenly aware of the need to deliver customer solutions in a safe, responsible and sustainable way,” Dave Robb, sustainability manager Cargill Aqua Nutrition, told IntraFish. “We work across our global supply chains to responsibly source all of our raw materials, with ProTerra certifying our soy sources.”

The company also ensures that suppliers are engaged in this effort and abide by Cargill’s Policy on Forests and Supplier Code of Conduct.

“We take any allegations made against us seriously. When the report came to our attention, we immediately contacted our suppliers to inquire about the claims made in the report,” said Robb.

Cargill will continue the audits at the suppliers’ locations to ensure they commit and participate in internationally recognized third-party audits such as ProTerra and the Soy Moratorium and Agrotools Terrasaf.

“The next steps for us is a Norwegian feed industry dialogue and potential collaboration with the ProTerra Foundation and our suppliers,” said Marcon.

The plan is to work with certified actors to achieve greater transparency and responsibility in the soy supply chain for Norwegian salmon feed. “Working with the right stakeholders on the ground, we can collaborate to deliver further improvements,” he said.

Cargill's statements follow similar findings provided by Norwegian feed giant Skretting, which found no links between the suppliers and the practices reported in the report.

Skretting's CEO Therese Log Bergjord told IntraFish there are, however, areas for improvement, and that this is an "ongoing process."

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