Meat inflation is at a multi-year high and pigs — plagued with African swine fever — are in the doghouse. But there’s a bigger price to pay for our carnivorous bent: deforestation of the world’s biggest rainforest.
Brazilian farmers, bumping up their herds to feed the world’s meat-hungry hordes, have been burning down swaths of the Amazonian rainforest for pasture.
One illustration of this is the correlation between acres of forest felled and heads of cattle added. More colourful ones can be seen by plugging “Amazon burning” into Google images.
This takes a big toll. Global Forest Watch calculates that Brazil lost nearly 54 million hectares of tree cover between 2001 and 2018, a 10 percent slice of the arboreal canopy — and the equivalent of driving just shy of 4 billion cars for a year.
Ranchers see it differently. They can put their cattle to pasture before they end up on the dinner table (mostly in the US and greater China) and then lease the land to the soya bean farmers for a year or two — another big export for Brazil as well as an input for the cattle.
There is a nice synergy to that: the soya bean farmers add nutrients to the soil , which benefits their livestock peers when they return their beasts to pasture.
A soya moratorium, signed by government, Greenpeace and industry that kept huge tracts of forest land off limits, is now under attack by farmers who claim to have the support of President Jair Bolsonaro. A pity.
Now is the time to extend the moratorium to cattle, not to rip it up. — Financial Times.