Brazil: New Greenpeace report: Slaughtering the Amazon

Slaughtering the Amazon, charges that major international companies are unwittingly driving the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest through their purchases of leather, beef and other products supplied from the Brazil cattle industry. Greenpeace found that Brazilian beef companies are important suppliers of raw materials used by leading global brands, including Adidas/Reebok, Nike, Carrefour, Eurostar, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Toyota, Honda, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, IKEA, Kraft, Tesco and Wal-Mart, among others.

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Clearly, the intention is to sensitize major global consumers and the corporations that manufacture and deliver beef-related products to bring pressure for real operative conservation practices in Brazil. A few years ago a similar campaign targeting soybean production resulted in an industry-led soy moratorium on planting in illegally logged areas of the Brazilian Amazon. Similarly, consumer consciousness may be able to reduce the linkage between ranching and future illegal deforestation. As with the soy campaign the hope is that eco-sensitive public opinion in the marketplace — as in the EU — might become a leverage toward better practices.

Additionally, emerging global climate policies such as REDD have been offering the possibilities of new market incentives which are already producing something of a rapprochement between antagonists like Minister of Environment Carlos Minc and Soy King and Mato Grosso Governor Blairo Maggi who have agreed to new policies intended to guide landowners into a new era of protecting the environment in exchange for payments for ecosystem services.

While there are high profile campaigns by world leaders — such as Prince Charles and Wangari Maathai — and cautious support for payments for avoided deforestation, there are many uncertainties and Greenpeace and several other environmental groups remain highly skeptical of using carbon offsets for avoided deforestation.

It’s definitely not going to be easy to birth a new era of harmony between conservation and development, either for the global economy or for AmazĂ´nia where the Brazilian Ministry of Environment is often sabotaged in Congress by the more powerful Ministries of Agriculture, Energy and Transportation. Indeed, Minister Minc is already facing many of the obstacles that drove his predecessor Marina Silva to her resignation.

As politics and personalities and promises grab the headlines it is important keep in view the pictures of what is happening on the ground where we citizens of Planet Earth — in Brazil and in the world — may be losing the future of the Amazon forest.

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