Brazilian government minister agrees with Greenpeace report

by Mike Gaworecki

June 2, 2009

Brazil’s minister of the environment, Carlos Minc, held a press conference today in Brasília to discuss fluctuating deforestation rates in the Amazon. During the press conference, Minc mentioned Greenpeace’s “Slaughtering the Amazon” report, calling it an important study and saying that he personally agrees with its overall recommendations, especially the need to trace the origins of meat products and our demand that the Brazilian government stop financing economic activities linked directly to deforestation.

From Reuters:

Minc said he agreed with a Greenpeace report on Sunday that Brazilian beef fueled destruction and that the government was complicit by funding it.

"This ministry shares the (report’s) view. Cattle ranching today is the main culprit of deforestation," Minc said.

Eleven meat packers, 20 cattle ranches and 72 suppliers would be banned from receiving government funds earmarked to rescue the beef industry, which is in trouble due to the global financial crisis, Minc said.

They raised and bought cattle from illegally deforested land, he said.

"We can’t have public money financing deforestation," said Minc, who complained last week about a lack of government support in carrying out his environmental agenda.

But wait, there are more updates from the Amazon!

We’ve just received this from our colleagues in Brazil:

The Public Prosecution Office in Para State has sent the supermarket chains Carrefour, Wal-Mart and Pao de Acucar (controlled by the French group Casino) a recommendation to stop buying meat from animals raised in illegally cleared areas in the Amazon rainforest region. The prosecutors warn that if the companies disobey, they could be fined up to US$ 250 per kilo of product. Another 72 national companies that buy cattle products also received the recommendation.

The Prosecution Office also opened a billion-dollar lawsuit against 20 farms, a Bertin slaughterhouse, and another 10 companies of the cattle sector that operate in Para State, accusing them of avoiding forest regeneration in illegally deforested areas that were the object of previous fines. The lawsuit asks for the retention of the farm owners’ goods as well as payment of fines and compensation for environmental damage to society, seeks to establish an embargo of any activity in the areas that were illegally cleared, and demands the recovery of 557 thousand hectares to be reforested with native species. Because they bought cattle from these farms, slaughterhouses and tanning companies are considered co-responsible.

This past weekend, we released our report “Slaughtering the Amazon,” which exposed the supply chain by which these slaughterhouses and tanning companies who are responsible for Amazonian deforestation are supplying the demand for raw resources to make a variety of consumer products, from beef to boots. Our investigation found that popular name brands like Nike, Adidas, and Timberland could be using leather made from cattle raised on illegally deforested Amazon land.

The demand for cattle products leads to deforestation, and deforestation releases tons of CO2, leading to climate change. Write to these shoemakers now and urge them to be a partner in finding solutions to deforestation and global warming.

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