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“ANALYSIS-Brazil beef industry yields to Amazon criticism”

by Mike Gaworecki

June 30, 2009

This Reuters article, published yesterday, does a great job of laying out the progress we’ve made so far in stopping deforestation in the Amazon thanks to our report, “Slaughtering the Amazon.”

SAO PAULO/RIO DE JANEIRO, June 29 (Reuters) – In a victory for conservationists, Brazil’s huge cattle industry is bending to demands to curb destruction of the Amazon forest after heavy criticism of its leading role in deforestation.

Reforms by Brazil’s big slaughterhouses could move the industry toward increased productivity and away from the practice of burning trees to clear land in the world’s largest rainforest, industry officials and conservationists say.

In the past month, since the release of a 40-page Greenpeace report detailing links between Brazil’s meatpackers and deforestation, the World Bank has withdrawn a $90 million loan to one firm. And supermarket chains said they would stop buying beef from 11 producers in the Amazon state of Para.

Big beef firms announced steps to ensure their cattle come from legal ranches. Beef exporters pledged not to accept meat from illegally deforested areas and to set up an electronic tracing system to guarantee the animals’ origin.

"There have been very good decisions," said Andre Muggiati of Greenpeace, whose report used satellite data to show that beef for Brazil’s domestic market and exports often comes from farms with recent deforestation.

"Now it is about implementation of deals. You have to monitor these commitments. If not, you lose it."

Like my colleague Andre says, making a commitment and following through on that commitment are two different things. We’ll be monitoring the situation in the Amazon closely to ensure that those companies who have committed to making changes actually follow through.

We’re still waiting to hear back from several of the shoe companies named in the report as to what they plan to do to make sure that the leather in their shoes is not coming from Amazon destruction. If you haven’t taken action yet, write to Nike, Adidas, Timberland, Geox, and Clarks right now and tell them to support solutions to deforestation and global warming. And if you’ve read any of the PR spin these companies have put out in the wake of our report release, you can read our responses here.

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