Beef exports linked to illegal deforestation in Brazil

Soy and beef exports to EU linked to illegal deforestation in Brazil: Study

Representative image. Credit: iStock

Illegal deforestation is a crime in Brazil and sustainable agriculture a priority, a government spokesperson said

Large imports of soy and beef from Brazil to Europe have been produced in deforested lands, a study conducted by the journal Science found.

The findings of the study suggest that the Brazilian government needs to come up with stringent environmental legislation and implement existing environmental laws. 

About 2% of properties in Amazon and Cerrado, Brazil, are responsible for 62% of all potentially illegal deforestation. Additionally, 20% of soy and 17% of beef exports from both these regions may be ‘contaminated’ by deforestation, the research showed. 

According to The Guardian, the study distinguished between legal and illegal deforestation linked to the production of soy and beef by compiling a new set of land-use and deforestation maps from national online environmental registry and cattle transport permits.

The study, however, also clarified that a vast majority of Brazilian agriculture output is sustainable and deforestation-free. It added that the government could ensure that the agriculture supply chain was more transparent and enforce clear policies on deforestation. 

“It is not enough to claim to be the world’s most sustainable agriculture while a share of the sector fails to comply with the country’s own environmental laws, and supports the government’s undoing of past environmental achievements,” the researchers told The Guardian. 

Often, fines for deforestation are ignored or rarely enforced some environmentalists have said. 

A spokesperson for Brazil’s government told The Guardian, “Illegal deforestation is a crime and fighting it is a priority for Brazil. The [paper] acknowledges that the vast majority of Brazilian agriculture output is sustainable and deforestation-free. Trade restrictions would not contribute to solve the problem and would rather harm hardworking families.”

Last year, the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro came under heavy fire from the international communities for his inaction over the massive fires in the Amazon and other eco-sensitive regions.