April 07, 2010
Brazilian cattle giants last October signed a zero deforestation agreement following consumer uproar over a Greenpeace report that linked cattle products used in some of the world's leading brands to forest destruction in the Amazon. Under the agreement, the companies pledged to register and map all the ranches supplying cattle from the Amazon directly to slaughterhouses by April 1, 2010. The registry would make it possible to assure consumers that cattle products were not the result of Amazon deforestation.
But neither of the beef giants at the meeting met their commitment. Both Marfrig and Minerva asked for a three-month extension.
Greenpeace also met with JBS — the world's largest slaughterhouse but no longer a member of ABIEC. JBS said that 80% of its Amazon production will be mapped by the end of April and asked for a three-month extension of the deadline.
The April deadline applies only to direct cattle suppliers. The companies have agreed to map and register their indirect suppliers by November 2011.
Greenpeace notes that deforestation for cattle ranching is still occurring despite the moratorium. It says that from October 2009 to January 2010 140 square kilometers of forest have been destroyed in "areas under direct influence of these slaughterhouses." The clearing accounts for 40 percent of all deforestation in the period.
Cattle ranching is the biggest driver of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. In recent years cattle pasture has been the fate of about 80 percent of deforested land, making ranching the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil.
Brazil is now the world's largest producer and exporter of beef. Its herd in the Amazon is nearly the size of the entire U.S. herd.