The cattle business is expanding rapidly in the Amazon, and now poses the biggest threat to the 80% of the original forest that still stands. Where loggers have made inroads to the edge of the forest in the states of Para and Mato Grosso, farmers have followed.
A report today from Greenpeace details a three-year investigation into these cattle farms and the global trade in their products, many of which end up on sale in Britain and Europe. Meat from the cattle is canned, packaged and processed into convenience foods. Hides become leather for shoes and trainers. Fat stripped from the carcasses is rendered and used to make toothpaste, face creams and soap. Gelatin squeezed from bones, intestines and ligaments thickens yoghurt and makes chewy sweets.
The environment campaign group wants Brazilian companies that buy cattle to boycott farms that have chopped down forest after an agreed date. To get the industry onside, it is seeking pressure from multinational brands that source their products in Brazil, and, ultimately, from their customers. Three years ago, a similar exposure of the trade in illegally grown Brazilian soya brought a rapid response from the industry, and a moratorium on soya from newly deforested farms that still holds.
Note: The ‘Middle East’ is the number one importer of agricultural goods (namely meat) from Brazil. Ask about your meat – where is it from – before you choose whether or not to buy it.