Brazil’s beef and soy exports to the European Union linked to illegal deforestation, the study found

The study, published in the journal Science on Thursday, “Rotten Apples of Brazilian Agribusiness” links illegal afforestation on rural properties in the Amazon and Cerrado to their agricultural production and exports to EU countries.
Brazil’s Cerrado is a biodiversity area composed of savannas, grasslands and forests that spans approximately 200 million hectares (about 500 million acres). These important ecological zones in Brazil have been largely cleared – due to the global demand for meat – to make way for cattle, and are later converted to grow soy that feeds livestock or the world Used to export to other parts of the world.

The study found that while most of Brazil’s agricultural production is deforestation-free, the 2% of assets studied in the Amazon and Cerro accounted for 62% of illegal deforestation. The study notes that a significant part of that deforestation is linked to agricultural exports.

The authors of the report stated, “The small but very destructive part of the region is a threat to the economic prospects of Brazil’s agribusiness, due to regional and global environmental consequences.”

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said last year that “it is our duty to protect the forest, to act to combat illegal deforestation and any other criminal activities that endanger our Amazon.”

Meanwhile, the far-flung and pro-business president vowed to explore the economic potential of the rainforest. He found that in China, the country’s largest trade partner, which increased imports of beef and soy from Brazil in the wake of the US trade war.

Critics say that environmental protection and the rapid disintegration of Bolsanaro’s economic policies have set the stage for environmental disaster.


For making The link between illegal deforestation and agricultural exports, The team – led by Raoni Rajao, a professor in social studies of science at the Federal University of Minas Gerais – land-use and deforestation maps for Brazil and information on 815,000 rural properties in the Amazon and Cerrado, as well as transportation of cattle. Documents. They have also developed software that calculates the level at which each property studied was complying with environmental and deforestation laws.

They found that approximately 1.9 million metric tons of soy could be grown on properties with illegal deforestation that could reach the EU markets annually. This means that 22% of all soy exported from this region to the European Union is potentially contaminated.

The authors warn that the real percentage may be higher because their sample contains 80% of the soy planted in the field.

Roughly 41% of EU soy imports come from Brazil, equivalent to 13.6 million metric tons per year.

Between 25% and 40% of EU beef imports come from Brazil. The study estimated that 12% of the 4.1 million cows traded for slaughterhouses in the states of Para and Mato Grosso in 2017 came directly from properties from potential illegal deforestation.

But this number increases to about 50% when taking suppliers indirectly contaminated with illegal deforestation. It also includes that if a ranch does not do deforestation but buys cattle from what it does.

The study also stated that in the state of Mato Grosso, pollution of beef exports from illegal deforestation can account for up to 44% in the Amazon and 61% in Cerrado regions.

The report noted that the Brazilian government “insists that national laws ensure high protection standards, and therefore trade restrictions should not include legally authorized deforestation.” But there may be major implications for their results that when countries go ahead with trade agreements they find that a portion of the imports may be linked to the illegal afforestation of the Amazon.

The authors said in the report, “International buyers of Brazilian agricultural commodities have raised concerns about products contaminated by deforestation.” “Among concerns is that increasing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and wildfires in Brazil may cancel the EU’s climate change mitigation efforts.”


Deforestation in Brazilian rainforests is accelerating. According to data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), there was an increase of about 64% in April this year compared to the same month last year. In April, more than 156 square miles (405.6 square kilometers) of the rainforest were destroyed – twice as large as the swath of Washington, DC.

According to INPE data, the first quarter of 2020 had already seen more than 50% increase in deforestation compared to the previous year.

Last year, after a large amount of rainforest was ignited by large-scale fires, Brazilian President Bolsonaro was accused of encouraging illegal ranching, miners and woodcutter activity, many of which allowed room for crops and cattle Use fire as a quick way to cut trees to clean. Pasture. By November 2019, the deforestation rate in the Amazon had risen to its highest level in more than a decade.
Bolsonaro of Brazil says he 'loves' Amazon.  But its policies are designed to wreak havoc on it.

Amid the trade war with the US, China for soybean supplies and as China turns to Brazil, experts worry that Brazil’s agricultural boom will come at the expense of housing like Cerrado and the Amazon.

In their report, the authors found that 120,000 properties in their study had deteriorated after 2008. Approximately 36,000 of those properties in the Amazon – 84% in Cerrado – and 27,000 – representing 35% – carried out this deforestation, saying they were in all likelihood illegal.

The authors stated that “all of Brazil’s economic partners do not ban importation and consume deforestation, consume or illegally contaminate agricultural products, indirectly for deforestation and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions.” Must share the blame. “

The authors said the report raised awareness of Brazil’s importance to “protect its environmental assets” and to suppress international efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

CNN’s Amy Woodayt, Flora Charner and Eliza Mackintosh contributed.