President Emmanuel Macron has been vocal this week in his opposition to the impending trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and the Mercosur trade bloc, made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The French President has refused to sign the agreement on the grounds that, if ratified, it would increase soy trade between the EU and Brazil, leading to increased deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest, as land is cleared for commercial agricultural use. Last Tuesday, Macron stated to the press that it would be better for the EU to grow its own soy crops rather than become dependent on imports from Brazil (Reuters).

“To continue to depend on Brazilian soy would be to condone the deforestation of the Amazon,” he tweeted on Tuesday (Reuters, Twitter [FR]).

Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourão jabbed back at Macron, stating that he is “no good” and has little understanding of Brazil’s soy production. Mourão further claimed that very little of Brazil’s soy is produced in the Amazon (Reuters). However, external sources disagree with Mourão’s assessment. The Financial Times reports that soy agriculture is a primary driver of land clearing in the Amazon (Financial Times). Researchers have additionally found that 2006’s Amazon Soy Moratorium, during which private companies accounting for 90% of Brazil-sourced soy agreed not to purchase soy grown on recently deforested land, was responsible for saving approximately 6,950 square miles of the forest (Mongabay). In 2020, the rate of deforestation in the Amazon rose to its highest levels in the past 12 years (Reuters).