Rainforest Deforestation Caused by Cattle Industry


May, 2009 | Posted by: Ryan Jones

The deforestation of the Amazon is happening for multiple reasons. You might be surprised to hear that one of the chief reasons is due to the cattle industry. In fact, according to a recent Green Peace report, the cattle industry is the Number One cause of deforestation in the modern world.

So, if you want to help save the world's rainforests, try abstaining from eating meat every now and again. Heck, you could abstain from eating meat altogether. While permanently going vegetarian will certainly help to curb the massive carbon footprint and deforestation caused by the cattle industry, even cutting back on meat consumption will help Mother Earth tremendously.

In regards to rainforest deforestation, lowering your meat consumption and abstaining from the purchase of cowhide products could be the saving grace for the Amazon rainforest. While Green Peace has been known to "blow up" a few issues over time, this report is on the mark. The deforestation of the Amazon rainforest is a very, very serious issue.

Just how serious? How does an increase of 68% deforestation rate from August 2007 to August 2008 sound? In other words, over one-fifth of the Amazon rainforest has been deforested over the past thirty years, culminating in over 8,147 square kilometers being chopped down for cattle ranchers in the last twelve months alone. Although the deforestation rate of the Amazon has slightly dropped in 2009 (due to the global economic crisis), Green Peace warns that the Brazilian government isn't doing enough to protect the rainforest, and that President Lula da Silva has some shaky plans at that.

The report draws attention to the fact that President Lula da Silva has announced that he intends to double Brazil's share of the worldwide cattle market over the course of the next ten years. However, Lula da Silva more recently said he promises to cut back the deforestation of the Amazon by 72% during the same time frame. A change in heart perhaps? Or is President Lula da Silva simply trying to placate the activists? Additionally, the Brazilian government has earmarked billions of dollars in loans to the cattle industry for expansion.

Although the Brazilian Meat Exporters Association says hardly any beef has been exported from the Amazon region (big surprise), beef industry officials have acknowledged that Amazon rainforest deforestation has resulted from small cattle farms. The solution, they say, is on the way. By implanting millions of cows with microchips, satellites will be able to track the movement of cattle. While I'm not quite sure how that exactly correlates to preventing deforestation of the Amazon, I suppose it's a start.

Another good start is the individual changes we can all make to keep from enabling more deforestation. Green Peace says that nearly all consumers have at least one by-product of Amazon deforestation in their homes, whether it be furniture, frozen readymade meals, handbags, shoes...the list goes on. In order to stop inadvertently procuring more of these byproducts, do a little research. In terms of beef production in Brazil, the meatpackers to avoid are JBS, Marfrig and Bertin. Shoe brands that have been found to rely on Amazon leather are Adidas, Reebok, Nike, Timberland, Clarks, while other brands and stores include the likes of IKEA, BMW, Kraft and Tesco.

AUGUST 2009 Update: Nike and Timberland have declared they will cease purchasing any leather that has originated in the Amazonian rainforest forests. The news is a major victory for the Green Peace campaign aimed at protecting the Amazon Rainforest.


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