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To Prevent Deforestation, Brazilian Supermarkets Ban Amazon Meat 94

Posted by samzenpus
from the stop-eating-local dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "BBC reports that the Brazilian Association of Supermarkets, representing 2,800 members, says it will no longer sell meat from cattle raised in the rainforest, a step they hope will cut down on the illegal use of rainforest where huge swathes have been turned into land for pasture and soy plantations. Public Prosecutor Daniel Cesar Azeredo Avelino says consumers will benefit from the deal. 'The agreement foresees a series of specific actions to inform the consumer about the origin of the meat both through the internet and at the supermarkets,' says Azeredo. 'We hope that the big chains will quickly take action.' The supermarkets' pledge comes as part of an initiative by the Public Prosecutor's Office to deprive the meat producers of outlets and an internet campaign aimed at informing Brazilian consumers of the ethics of boycotting meat from Amazonian sources is also planned. Brazil's Greenpeace advocacy group says the growth of the cattle industry in the Amazon is the single biggest cause of deforestation. For decades now, Brazilian authorities have battled illegal logging and other activities that continue to reduce the rainforest and in January the Brazilian government announced it plans to prepare an inventory of the trees in the Amazon rainforest. The Forestry Ministry said the census would take four years to complete and would provide detailed data on tree species, soils and biodiversity in the world's largest rainforest. The last such exhaustive survey was conducted more than three decades ago but didn't help stop deforestation."
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To Prevent Deforestation, Brazilian Supermarkets Ban Amazon Meat

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  • by girlinatrainingbra (2738457) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @04:09AM (#43300697)
    Isn't this Closing the door a little too late? Kind of like shutting that barn door after those cows have already gotten out into that brazilian rainforest? There must be other ways to head off this deforestation. For ivory poaching in Africa, international sanctions and prohibitions on export and sale seems to work, so I guess if there were universal (United Nations?) agreement to restrict the export and sale of "amazon rainforest meat" at a governmental level then that might have some impact.
    .
    Otherwise, a brazilian supermarket chain eschewing the sale of "amazon meat" is as useful as a bunch of hippies saying they won't work for no defense contractor no sirreee or a large bunch of idiots around the earth turning off non-essential power-consumption for one hour as occurred during the last week or weekend. It's a strange vain showing off of one's ideals and beliefs that will have very little impact or result in the real world.
    .
    Why, yes, I am quite a cynic.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The UN does nothing but sit there and pretend to play politics. If someone breaks the rule they do nothing about it and it's not too late, they can always regrow trees or whatever.

    • by symbolset (646467) * on Thursday March 28, 2013 @05:11AM (#43300923) Homepage Journal
      Amazon sells meat? Excuse me, I gotta update my shopping list.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Isn't this Closing the door a little too late?

      Actually, it's not even that, it's purely symbolic. They need to stop McDonalds from selling Amazon meat if they want to make an impact.

      It's a strange vain showing off of one's ideals and beliefs that will have very little impact or result in the real world.

      You had me until "vain".

      • by Alioth (221270)

        McDonald's sells Amazon meat? Are they actually barefaced lying when they say in their publicity they use (in the US) US sourced meat, and in Europe, European meat? I'm not a fan of Ronnie's Burger Bar but I'm sure the myth that they use Amazon meat was put to rest years ago.

      • What's your objection to my opinion "that kind of behavior is an indicator of the performer's vanity/vain-ness"? Just wondering, especially if you agree with the underlying idea that this behavior will have little impact other than pointing out that these people/supermarkets are doing this behavior. Isn't performing a symbolic action to show others that you are performing that symbolic action "vanity"?
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Isn't performing a symbolic action to show others that you are performing that symbolic action "vanity"?

          Only if you're doing it so that you can enjoy them seeing you do it. If you are trying to lead by example in order to make a better world, no, that's not vanity. Intent is always relevant.

          • re:If you are trying to lead by example in order to make a better world, no, that's not vanity.

            Ah. Okay. I concede your point. I had not considered that particular type of intention in my thought process. Thanks for the explanation.

    • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @08:33AM (#43301737)
      No, you are right. But there's a bigger, probably unsolvable issue that caused all this. By American standards (I'm American), Brazil has really weird property laws. In fact, I'd argue that a lot of Brazilian laws in general are weird based on my understanding of them. But specifically to this article, private property is really strange there. See, nobody owns those lands in the Amazon rain forest and the law prevents the government from owning them. Brazil also has some crazy laws that give squatters rights that I've just never heard of in any developed country. In the US, somebody owns all the land. It may be the US government, but somebody owns all American land. There is no American land that is not owned. If people just started clearcutting American national forests and putting cattle farms on them, they'd wind up in jail as soon as Uncle Sam found out about it. In Brazil, such things are just met with shrug from the government, a sigh and a "What can we do?" sort of response. The government doesn't own that land, so they are powerless to stop such things. Also, probably as an overreaction to abuses by dictatorial governments in the past, Brazilian law is really weak at punishing people. Someone could go to Brazil, kill a million people, go to jail for 29 years and then get out in time to do it all over again. Brazilian cops can legally shoot you down and kill you under circumstances that are completely illegal in the USA, but once you are in the system, you are safe. You can't get more than 29 years for any crime and Brazilian prisons are rather notorious for being run by the inmates. So the lack of effective punishment deterrents, a justice system that more often than not actually feels sorry for the perp rather than the victim (this is very common in countries that are strongly anti-death penalty), the lack of default government ownership of land and unusually strong squatter's rights laws have led to a situation where the only response is an indignant "We're not going to sell your meat" from the grocers. I suspect that the farms will continue to deplete the rainforest and they'll simply ship the meat to China.
      • by Sunda666 (146299)

        you sir understand us very well... kudos!

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      It wouldn't be fair to tell the Brazilians not to cut down their forests after we cut down most of ours. What we need is a system similar to carbon credits that makes it profitable for developing countries to keep their forests.

  • ...that's from the same source as Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 gal, 128 fl. oz. [amazon.com], right?

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      I always wondered about why Brazil couldn't protest to the WTO about the use of "Amazon" as a trademark to sell books and things... Is it that geographic names are not so protected, or is it that books are not oftenly commonly associated with a river?
  • I don't really get it. If it is illegal to raise a cattle in rainforest, put these people in jail or fine heavily. They won't do that, but they expect same people to label the cattle 'It comes from illegal farm in Amazon, don't buy it, because we are breaking the law' ? They are cutting trees and bribing officials, but not putting a label will be beyond their capablities?

    • The Amazon is big, and policing the farms directly is tough. OTOH, a major supermarket chain is a single point of delivery and redistribution for many farmers' produce. Thus it is simpler to prevent undesirable behaviour by refusing to buy the goods there. Of course, this only has a chance of working if a substantial fraction of all the supermarkets in Brazil refuse to accept the produce.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, 2013 @04:45AM (#43300845)

    There's a recent TED talk where, counterintuitively, using more livestock instead of less is an actually proven way to fix desertification:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change.html

    • by necro81 (917438) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @07:38AM (#43301435) Journal
      A better way to fix desertification is to not cut down the rain forests in the first place! The risk to the Amazon basin isn't coming from the presence of the cows per se, but from the fact that a well-established, thriving rainforest ecosystem was there one day, then destroyed for cropland the next.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rewarp (1736742)

      Pseudoscience alert! From KCET's Chris Clarke
      http://www.kcet.org/updaily/socal_focus/commentary/east-ca/learn-how-to-hate-the-desert-with-ted.html [kcet.org]

      Savory's talk is full of red flags, and to document and rebut each one would take more time than is really wise to spend on the talk. But three stand out as especially egregious.

      The notion that bare, unvegetated soil in the American desert is an evil to be avoided flies in the face of everything we know about desert soil science. Bare soil in the desert includes d

      • by Xaedalus (1192463)
        Dude, I've grown up in Nevada in the heart of cattle country. I've seen first-hand how cattle herds have converted old mining tracts that were almost completely stripped of vegetation back into riparian habitat. That's how the BLM is reconverting damaged environments--by allowing cattle rights to ranchers to go free range and graze. Where the cattle go and graze, the wildlife soon follow. Savory's right, and you're wrong.
        • by Xaedalus (1192463)
          And another thing: my father was the head of the Farm Service Agency in Nevada, and he worked with the Sierra Club, the ranchers, and the BLM to repair damage to the environment using cattle. Free-range grass-fed cattle are very good for the environment, and they're one of the reasons that wild horses have managed to thrive to the point now where they are the culprit for destroying the environment by over-eating on the range land and thus starving themselves. We'd be doing wild horses a huge favor by shooti
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by rewarp (1736742)

            It's the "deserts are evil" mentality that is at fault here with the Savory talk - and with much of the support behind it. Deserts have their own unique ecosystem supporting their own unique niche of animal life. "Repairing" an ecosystem that doesn't need repairing is one of the most destructive practices I have ever come across because of a misunderstanding that somehow desert ecosystems are a waste of land unless you can get cattle to graze on it, and remove much of the niches to substitute them for those

  • Europe has tons of prime Romanian meat that they would be happy to provide at a killer price.

    . . . you may whinny and snort after eating it, though. But you will run as fast as a Triple Crown winner!

  • by w0mprat (1317953) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @05:13AM (#43300927)
    Rainforests make 20% of our oxygen. And we let people cut that shit down?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I hate to break it to you, but it's not your call. There used to be forests all over the world, and they were cut down where you live by your stupid ancestors and mine. The Amazon doesn't belong to you. If you want to do something radical, send the army into the sprawling suburbs, deport the people there into the cities and grow trees where the McMansions and malls used to be.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        I hate to break it to you, but it's not your call.

        Might may not make right, but it decides whose call it is.

    • by will_die (586523)
      In which case donate to various organizations that purchase forest for the purposes of not developing it. Otherwise the land is not yours.
    • by Andrio (2580551)
      Not many people seem to know this, but most deforestation occurs so that there is grazing land for cattle, than for wood and paper.

      And in a double whammy effect, the billions of cows we've bred around the world produce a "shit ton" (hah!) of methane; a greenhouse gas 20x more potent than CO2.
      • Methane reacts with O2 to produce a lot of CO2 though. It doesn't linger very long.

        The only thing possibly wrong with this proposal is that Greenpeace is historically stupid. "By far the biggest cause" could be "what we're most aware of" and turn out to be the smallest factor ever. Like when Greenpeace gave Apple the lowest score for "being good to the environment," while Apple was using less packaging, less toxic shit, and less energy to manufacture their products by far than everyone else in the indus

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Where did you get that bullshit from? Even if the rainforests have sequestrated all the CO2 in the atmosphere, that's just 0.04% compared to the 20% of oxygen in it. We could burn all the forests and carbon reserves without running out of oxygen. Also, forest don't produce oxygen actively, they only store carbon. Not to mention that you ignored the effect of marine life.

      • He could mean that 20% of the capacity for converting CO2 into H2O is in the fucking rainforest. That's a flow resource, and you're thinking of a stock resource. The 20% of O2 in the atmosphere is a stock resource; the conversion of 1ML of CO2 to 1ML of H2O is a flow resource. There may be 0.1ML of CO2 in the air, but people may consume 1ML of Oxygen and produce 1ML of CO2 per 24 hours. If there's a mechanism to convert 1ML per 24 hours of CO2 into O2, then you retain 0.1ML of CO2; if not, you QUICKLY e
        • He could mean that 20% of the capacity for converting CO2 into H2O is in the fucking rainforest. That's a flow resource, and you're thinking of a stock resource.

          Except that a mature forest produces as much O2 as it consumes. There's no net flow there.

          • Not true. Plants are the only producers of oxygen (algae ...), but not the only consumers. Plants have a relatively low metabolic rate, and are the providers of food--fruit, leaves, etc--for other things. They produce much more oxygen than they consume (where 'production' is the refinement of CO2 into free O2).

            Trees are the largest net producers per growing area of oxygen (and also, massive--grass isn't exactly heavy). During the day, when plants are producing oxygen, animals are absorbing that oxygen

            • Trees are the largest net producers per growing area of oxygen (and also, massive--grass isn't exactly heavy). During the day, when plants are producing oxygen, animals are absorbing that oxygen; at night, when plants are absorbing oxygen, animals are also absorbing oxygen.

              ...and both of them are using the oxygen to "burn" carbon compounds recently produced in the same forest by releasing the same amount of oxygen. Unless the forest is continuously sequestering carbon, e.g., by continuously dumping dead biomass into some sort of anaerobic environment, there is no long-term net output of oxygen. (Alternatively, you can turn the trees into books and sequester the all the carbon in libraries! E-books are destroying the world by preventing this from happening! ;-))

              One tree thus produces between 27 and 33 liters of oxygen per day. That's processing of between 42 and 100 kg of CO2 per tree per day, net flow.

              100 kg of CO2 p

              • You mean with the leaves being eaten off by bugs and all? With the root system growing continuously? The acorns a large oak produces? Twigs and branches breaking off in the wind? That's how trees handle wind, by the way. Look up the engineering on tree houses. A big concern is the wind impact and uprooting the tree--the root system has to get stronger, because the tree's natural method of handling wind is to lose leaves, then twigs, then large branches; it won't lose a house. If the tree kept its le

        • by Hentes (2461350)

          He could mean that 20% of the capacity for converting CO2 into H2O is in the fucking rainforest.

          That would be photofission and would be quite amazing if plants could do that. Photosynthesis [wikipedia.org] doesn't work that way. Plants only produce twice as much oxygen as the amount of carbon trapped in them. Now there is an amount of carbon that gets into the ground in forests and form coal deposits, but that is insignificant on human timescales. Rainforests are pretty much a stock resource. The only real carbon-negative forests are forestries.

    • I think that's 20% of oxygen from land. Most oxygen is coming from ocean plant life.

    • Rainforests make 20% of our oxygen. And we let people cut that shit down?

      No, they don't, unless they're actually growing. You can't make oxygen from CO2 without producing biomass that gets deposited and doesn't rot away.

    • That is something of a falsehood. Most of the oxygen generated by a rainforest is consumed by it during the night. The global supply of oxygen is largely generated by phytoplankton blooms in the oceans.

  • Amazon, sounds like:
    Customers who purchased this meat also purchased:
    - cheap clothes from Vietnam where factories pollute their environment
    - this nice device from Chine where laborers health is affected by bad working circumstances
    - fish caught against over-fishing rules
  • Clearly this is a case of government interference in the free market. If all that CO2 sequestration and oxygen were worth more money than cows, the invisible hand of the market would have led to an abundant rain forest rather than cattle ranches.

    • Re:Free market (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shentino (1139071) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @07:44AM (#43301453)

      You're probably being sarcastic, but it's easy to make a profit fucking over the environment if you don't have to eat the consequences.

      Tragedy of the commons is instructive on why sometimes government intervention is a wise course of action.

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        Tragedy of the commons is instructive on why sometimes government intervention is a wise course of action.

        'The commons' generally only exists because of government intervention. Otherwise someone would already own the place and, if it's valuable, take better care of it.

  • Hunting Female Warriors [wikipedia.org] is difficult, its a question of whether they get you before you get them

  • Given the lucrative profits possible from abusing the rain forest I don't think anything short of force of arms is going to put a stop to it.

    Brazil needs to crack down on this and make it a crime, and then actually put some money behind law enforcement.

  • Amazons are people too!
  • Most deforestation in Brazil is caused by slash and burn to make room for sugar beet production which is then turned into ethanol in order to make Brazil energy self sufficient.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      you are wrong. not only cattle take much more space but the rainforest soil is not suitable for crops. and it's sugar cane not sugar beet. and most of the production of sugar cane and ethanol occurs thousands of miles away in the southeast and northeast brazil.

  • Seems that is just a big problem as beef.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Meat in Brazil is an export comodity. The bulk of production is handled by economic concerns the physicalmeat industry, and farmers, are attached, subordonate and subservient to. Also, controlled by. Since, these conglomerates usually have strong ties to banking, finance, agro supplies and machinery sales.

    The economic crunch ("austerity") means the local people are already below the last rung of product substitution. Cattle meat rarely figures in their food basket, except in the very worst quality.

    Election

  • Since most people don't know the basics about brazil or it's forests and patriotic brazilians on the internet are as abundant as they are likely to troll and HUEHUEHUE, flamewars will definitely insue.
  • I wrote an article on things we can do to save the planet. It was meant for the Digg crowd but some might want to read it here. One of the ways was to buy up the remainder of the rain forest. It's expensive that's true but as they say there is probably a cure for cancer in there somewhere! Save the Planet: 16 Ways [rawcell.com]
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Margareth Thatcher suggested something like that. Guess which banks end up holding the derivatives, mortgages, mer(d)s ... etc. ? And get to do the foreclosure. Latvia, Greece, Cyprus, Italy.

      In other news, What right do those "primitive tribesmen" in the"middle east" (and elsewhere) have to control and dictate the use of resources the civilized world needs for its industry, progress, and wealth. A lot of Europeans saidthat. Not a few USAns, too.

      The same thing happened in the US. "Primitive Indians" had no v

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It would be much better to outlaw wood exports/trade from Brazil.

    Go to any furniture store in Brazil and you cannot find any mahogany piece, because it is extermely regulated.

    Go to any good USA/Japan furniture store and you will find brazilian finest pieces from the rainforest.

    Logging and farming are the main reasons, you must get rid of both.

  • Don't cut down your forests like we in the US did! All it did was give us a massively powerful, unparalleled economy inventing things and advancing the human condition at unprecidented rates.

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