How Big Beef Is Fueling the Amazon’s Destruction

Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “How Big Beef Is Fueling the Amazon’s Destruction” – below is their description.

The world’s biggest beef producer, JBS, says it has no tolerance for rainforest deforestation. Bloomberg’s analysis shows that’s not true—and Brazilian law isn’t helping.

Understanding how Brazil’s beef industry and rainforest destruction are inextricably intertwined reveals a truth that JBS doesn’t acknowledge: As the region’s biggest beef producer, its supply chain is also among the biggest drivers of Amazon deforestation the world has ever known. While marketing itself as a friend of the environment, JBS has snapped up more cattle coming out of the Amazon than any other meatpacker in an industry that’s overwhelmingly to blame for the rainforest’s demise. It has helped push the world’s largest rainforest to a tipping point at which it’s no longer able to clean the Earth’s air, because large swaths now emit more carbon than they absorb. Late last year, at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, governments and financial institutions—including JBS investors—made ambitious green commitments to drastically alter their business models to save the environment. With Amazon deforestation at a 15-year high, JBS is a case study illustrating how difficult it is to keep such promises.

For more than a decade, JBS has committed to ridding its supply chain of animals born or raised on deforested land. Bloomberg analyzed about 1 million delivery logs that JBS accidently posted online to show just how far its footprint has reached into the Amazon in that period. A 10-day trip into the heart of Brazil’s cattle country put on full display how easily and openly cows from illegally cleared land flood supply chains. JBS says it sets the highest standards for its suppliers, but it’s using a greenwashed version of an animal’s origin and working within a legal system so full of loopholes that prosecutors, environmentalists and even ranchers themselves consider it a farce.

Asked to respond to this article, JBS said “it has no tolerance for illegal deforestation.” The São Paulo-based company added that it “has maintained, for over 10 years, a geospatial monitoring system that uses satellite imagery to monitor its suppliers in every biome” in Brazil.

Produced with support of the Pulitzer Center’s Rainforest Investigations Network.

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Brazil is the largest country in both South America and Latin America.

Its capital is Brasília, and its most populous city is São Paulo. The federation is composed of the union of the 26 states and the Federal District. It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas, as well as the most populous Roman Catholic-majority country.

Its Amazon basin includes a vast tropical forest, home to diverse wildlife, a variety of ecological systems, and extensive natural resources spanning numerous protected habitats. Brazil is classified as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank and a newly industrialized country.

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