“Green.” “Low-carbon.” “Home-grown.” “Clean-burning.” “Sustainable.”

A trip down a dusty dirt road in northern Argentina provides a more accurate picture of the reality of the modern biodiesel industry. On the left-hand side lies a pristine forest, teeming with wildlife: howler monkeys, tapirs, and jaguars. On the right, new soy fields are being carved into pristine forest. Burnt trees and the white ash they leave behind stretch for as far as the eye can see.

Our investigation found evidence that the buyers of this “deforestation soy” are some of the same companies producing soy-based biodiesel for export to the United States. Much of the demand driving this destruction in Argentina stems from U.S. biofuels policy, primarily the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This overarching law mandates increasing consumption of biofuels over time.

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 Rose Garr and Sheila Karpf
 January 9, 2018