A US food giant has been implicated in a sugarcane scandal in Brazil that has kept an entire indigenous community off its land, polluted streams and inflicted illness and death on Guarani Indians.
Headquartered in the US, global grain trader Bunge is deeply involved in Brazil’s burgeoning biofuels market, and sources sugarcane from farmers who have taken over the ancestral land of the Guarani.
A community of 225 Guarani in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, whose land was taken from them to make way for the plantations, says the invasion of sugarcane, associated machinery and pesticides has ruined their lives over the past four years.
Two Guarani from Jata Yvary community have already committed suicide this year. The boys, aged 16 and 13, were found hanging from trees. A truck from the plantations used by Bunge also reportedly ran over and killed a man.
Talking to Survival International, the community said, ‘We Guarani don’t want sugarcane planted on our land anymore…it harms our health, including the health of our children, and elderly people, and the poison contaminates the water.’
The Guarani say pesticides sprayed from planes land on their community, and discarded machinery and crops have been left to rot in streams they rely on for water.
In a letter they call for their ‘land to be demarcated…and for white people in the area to be evicted, because with them we don’t have space to hunt and fish, and we can’t practice our traditions. We want to preserve the forest but they are destroying it, and illegally making money from it.’