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Brazil Shuts Down Amazon Soy Port

Brazilian government, unhappy with the company's environmental impact statements, closes controversial Cargill port on the Amazon River.

Brazilian authorities shut down a soybean shipping port on the Amazon River owned by U.S. company Cargill Inc. The government says Cargill failed to provide a required environmental impact statement.

Federal police agent Cesar Dessimoni says in an Associated Press release that authorities faced no resistance shutting down the port.

The company had prepared an environmental assessment, but it apparently did not meet Brazil's standards. Cargill plans to appeal the ruling, but Dessimoni says, "They'll have to do it correctly, as the law demands."

Opponents of soy expansion in and around the Amazon rainforest say that Cargill's $20 million Amazon port, opened three years ago, is banking on the government building a promised paved highway 1,100 miles through the rainforest from the soy state of Mato Grosso to Santarem, where Cargill's port is located.

Brazil's Environment Ministry says that the rainforest lost 6,450 square miles to deforestation between 2005 and 2006. Environmentalists say the proposed highway would pave the way for more deforestation. However, many in Santarem defend the port as a way to help alleviate the area's poverty.

Cargill says that an environmental impact report had been accepted by the state of Para, where the port is located.

"We find ourselves caught in a jurisdictional dispute between the state and federal government about which regulations have precedence," Cargill spokeswoman Lori Johnson says. "When we built the facility, the permits were issued by the state. "Since that time the federal prosecutor has said we should have done another kind of environmental assessment and that is the issue before the courts."

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