Beef Supplier Gets Busted Buying Cattle From Farmer Guilty Of Amazon Deforestation

While the Amazon rainforest continues to be ruthlessly deforested to make way for cattle ranches, a major beef supplier just got caught purchasing cattle from a farmer who is guilty of deforestation in Brazil.

Earth’s greatest defense against climate change is the Amazon rainforest, which already captures the most carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and produces 20 percent of the oxygen we breathe. Unfortunately, the world demand for beef is the primary driver of deforestation in the Amazon as farmers seek their fortunes through raising and selling cattle, which requires grazing lands.

Beef suppliers are under a lot of pressure to ensure that their product isn’t sourced from cattle raised on deforested land or raised by farmers guilty of deforestation.

But major beef supplier Marfrig just got busted for the latter.

Environmental watchdog Ibama revealed that Marfrig bought cattle from Limeira Ranch on several occasions in 2018, and at least 144 cattle in just the last year even though Limeira Ranch is guilty of deforestation and had been leveled with a hefty fine.

Marfrig insists that they made a mistake due to a supposedly misleading government certificate, but the world isn’t buying that excuse because Trase, a supply-chain initiative run by the Stockholm Environment Institute, has mapped the supply chains of Marfrig, JBS and Minerva, the three largest beef suppliers in Brazil, and found that all three have sourced their beef from farmers that perpetrated deforestation of the rainforest.

The Guardian reports:

According to Trase’s calculations, Marfrig’s beef exports come from farms linked to up to 100 sq km of deforestation risk a year in Brazil. Trase also calculated figures for JBS, the world’s biggest meat company, and Minerva Foods, another large global supplier of Brazilian beef. JBS beef exports have been linked to farms involved in up to 300 sq km of deforestation risk per year, and Minerva Foods linked to farms involved in 100 sq km of risk, according to the research.

Of course, all three companies provided a denial or an excuse to the publication in response.

Marfrig said: “It would be a mistake to conclude from Trase data that there is a link between the cattle purchased by Marfrig and deforestation in the region. Precisely because it understands that there is a risk and that Trase information provides relevant services for the preservation of biomes, Marfrig developed and implemented its geo-monitoring platform. This system is audited by an independent third-party – Norwegian DNV GL. Using this platform and analyzing Trase information, Marfrig substantially mitigates the risk of acquiring animals from deforestation – using, since 2009, the zero-deforestation criterion for the Amazon biome.”

Minerva said: “Sustainability forms one of the fundamental pillars of Minerva Foods, at its core to feed the world, conserve the planet and enhance human value … 100% of Minerva’s purchases come from zero-deforestation areas in the Amazon biome. Overlapping our suppliers’ ranch map with deforestation polygons, indigenous lands and environmental protection areas, our sustainability department blocks any supplier that is not compliant with any of the criteria, which effectively means that Minerva can’t buy any animals coming from these suppliers.”

JBS said: “JBS has an unwavering commitment to combat, discourage and eliminate deforestation in the Amazon region … For nearly a decade, we have monitored our supply chain with satellite technology, geo-referenced farm data and official government records to ensure compliance with our stringent responsible sourcing policies … The most recent audit in 2018, conducted by DNV GL, a global quality assurance and certification company based in Norway, confirmed that 100% of our cattle purchases were in compliance with our responsible sourcing policies.”

Clearly, these companies are putting profit over the environment. They aren’t really sorry, they’re just sorry they got caught. If the world is serious about stopping deforestation and saving the Amazon rainforest, boycotting all beef from Brazil would force change. Besides, the world could stand to reduce their consumption of beef, especially in the United States. Action must be taken, and there’s simply no pain these days like economic pain to force companies and nations to be responsible.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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