Environmental Groups Pressure Fast Food Companies To Boycott Brazil Over Amazon Fires

As the Amazon rainforest continues to burn, environmental groups like Greenpeace are calling for a boycott of products from Brazil that come from farms on deforested lands, especially by fast-food companies.

Thousands of acres have been lit ablaze to make way for cattle ranching and soy plantations. While the cattle provide beef, the soy is harvested for use as feed for livestock. So even if fast-food companies purchase their beef from farmers who did not burn down forest lands, they are still driving the deforestation in Brazil.

For instance, according to BBC News, the United Kingdom imports 2.5 million tons of soy every year, most of which is used as livestock feed. Approximately one-third of this comes from Brazil and the Sustainable Trade Initiative says that only 14 percent of the 761,739 tons from Brazil are certified “deforestation free.”

That’s a major problem that needs to be dealt with immediately.

“All of the big fast-food companies use soya in animal feed, none of them know where it comes from and soya is one of the biggest drivers of deforestation worldwide,” Greenpeace head of forests Richard George said in a statement.

The fact is that the Amazon rainforest is the best weapon humanity has to fight climate change, seeing as how it sucks up the most carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and produces 20 percent of the oxygen we need to breathe.

But as long as companies continue demanding beef and soy from Brazil, more rainforest will be cleared, and Brazil’s right-wing leader President Jair Bolsonaro has dismantled environmental protections, thus greenlighting wanton destruction of the Amazon.

“President Bolsonaro can only pursue his anti-environmental agenda so long as companies are willing to accept the products that fuel destruction and exacerbate climate change,” Greenpeace Brazil campaign director Tica Minami said in a press release. “Fast food companies buying from Brazil cannot continue business as usual while the biggest rainforest in the world is burnt down for cattle farms. This is a crisis. We can’t protect the climate without the Amazon. Companies don’t have the luxury of staying silent. Burger King, McDonald’s and KFC need to take a stand against the increase in forest destruction under Bolsonaro’s term, for the sake of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil and everyone on the planet.”

In short, it’s time for companies around the world to force the issue by boycotting beef and soy from Brazil.

Burger King has acknowledged the problem but has not indicated whether it will participate in a boycott.

“We are aware that in some of our beef, there are trace amounts of soya in the feed,” Burger King said in a statement. We are also aware that there is no traceability programme in place anywhere in the world that can currently track all soy beans to a single farm in a single country.”

Of course, Brazil Environment Minister Ricardo Salles claims a boycott would only worsen the problem.

“We need sustainable economic development…and boycotts or behaviors like this will only make things even worse,” he said.

But so far, the opposite is the actual case. More demand is fueling deforestation, which means a boycott is necessary. Because if no one buys beef and soy from Brazil, the only way Brazilians can prevent their economy from being shredded is to adopt anti-deforestation policies and start restoring the Amazon rainforest to its former glory as much as possible. They are going to have to reverse the damage they have done. Salles says that farmers will simply sell their products elsewhere, but if most of the world participates in the boycott, they won’t have many buyers. Just look at what China was able to do to American soybean farmers by ending their purchase of all soybeans from the United States. The same can be done to Brazilian farmers.

It will just take the will of governments and companies around the globe to do it. And if they don’t, the lungs of the Earth will be lost.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.
 

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