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The three Biggest Brazilian meatpacking companies and their “promise”.

Qia Chen. 2020. 02. 19

By the record, 26000 number of burning vast swaths of the Amazon happened in last year August. The increasing number of burning happening in the world’s largest rainforest generates carbon dioxide and raise global temperatures. Most of the forest fires are caused by ranchers who want to expand the pasture area. For protecting Amazon, there was an agreement launched by the environmental group Greenpeace at 10 years ago. It prohibited companies buying the cattle from ranchers who raised their cattle in newly deforested areas. The three biggest Brazilian meatpacking companies which are JBS, Minerva and Marfrig have signed the agreement. However, they only keep part of the agreement. At first, the agreement did lead to improvements, the deforestation behavior has decreased to only 4 percent in 2013. As the demand for beef is rising. The incentive to cut more rainforest for grazing became irresistible.

The biggest hole for the agreement is the supply chain. It is rare for a cow to live its whole life on the farm. It can be bought and sold many times until it reaches the ranch and then sold directly to the slaughterhouse. In this case, the source of a cow is hard to trace. When the slaughterhouses buy from these ranches, they can say they have acquired a cow from a compliant source, because animal transport information was disorganized, dispersed and difficult to access. Although, there is data shows that “showed that 6 percent of the cattle JBS had bought between October 2009 and 2016, totaling 36,739 heads of cattle, came from ranches that had been illegally cleared.”  JBS insists that “100 percent of its cattle purchases from its direct suppliers “were in compliance with our responsible sourcing policies,” They called this phenomenon as “cattle laundering”. It’s easy for the company to play “dumb”, but it’s hard for them to see the real result of their behavior rising the global temperature.


Krauss, C., Yaffe-bellany, D., & Simões, M. (2019, October 10). Why Amazon Fires Keep Raging 10 Years After a Deal to End Them. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/10/world/americas/amazon-fires-brazil-cattle.html

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