More than 200 million cattle live and graze in Brazil, bringing US $123 billion into the country’s economy annually. However, 80 percent of new deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is caused by the conversion of forest to cattle pasture.
While international beef retailers have worked to decouple their markets from cattle-driven deforestation, a recent report shows that a lack of traceability and transparency of the cattle supply chain continues to thwart their efforts.
In Brazil, deforestation of Brazilian Amazon became a huge problem. This is because that Brazil is the world’s second largest supplier of cattle and the statistic says that it contributes about $123 billion USD to the Brazil economy, representing 7% of the country’s GDP.
International beef retailers are trying to fixing this but are hampered by the lack of traceability and transparency of the cattle supply chain. There is already a policy trying to improve the situation, but there is a major “loophole”. That is:
cattle are owned by several ranches. But current policies only require slaughterhouses to assure that no deforestation occurred on the ranch from which the livestock was purchased. So ranchers who cause illegal deforestation “launder” cattle, by selling them to ranchers who don’t.
As a result, the conversion of forest to cattle pasture is keeping worsening the situation.
Experts say that Brazil needs to adopt digital traceability system “whereby every cow is electronically tagged at birth and tracked along the entire supply chain”. The government has taken some actions to enclose this loophole. But political willingness is one of the blockage that thwart the country to do so mainly because the government is dominated by the agribusiness lobby.
So, to protect forests over the longer term as the global population soars toward nine billion people, we need to consider a transition to eating less animal protein in general and especially beef.