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Deforestation for food

Food industry urged to act as Amazon deforestation rises by 59% in one month and hits five-year annual record
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Deforestation for food

Main image: © Christian Braga – Greenpeace

Official figures released yesterday (07 Aug) confirm the trend seen in previous months as deforestation in the Amazon continues to increase.

Data show 1,654km² were cleared in July, an increase of 59.2% from June. Between August 2019 and July 2020, 9,205km² were cleared, equivalent to almost 1.2 million football fields and a 34.5% increase compared with the previous 12 months.

This is also the biggest annual record since Brazil’s New Amazon Near Real-Time Deforestation Detection System, DETER B, was implemented in 2015.

Industrial meat and the UK

Data also show large single areas of between three and five thousand hectares have been cleared in the last 12 months.

‘UK companies selling vast quantities of industrial meat are heavily involved in this destructive system and they know it.

‘Companies calling for new deforestation laws is one thing but it does not let them off the hook.

‘They have a responsibility to make the changes they know they need to right now that will help turn this situation around. Tesco boss Dave Lewis said himself just two weeks ago: ‘The entire food industry, including retailers, must act.’

‘There are two simple steps Tesco must take to help protect people and planet – drop forest destroyers and halve meat sales by 2025. Dave, more than anyone, must know – every little helps.’

Greenpeace UK head of forests

Human rights in Brazil

Amazon communities – who are particularly at risk from Covid-19 due to their culture of community living and limited access to health care – are at risk of being made yet more vulnerable to the disease by exposure to smoke from the fires that ranchers set on a massive scale to clear newly felled forest.

The Brazilian government’s actions against the environment has been damaging the country’s reputation and economy. Investors, trade partners and major Brazilian companies have publicly raised concerns over Bolsonaro’s government’s impacts on the climate and on human rights.

But Bolsonaro’s response has been performative and ineffective, such as deploying the army in costly and inefficient operations to fight deforestation and an insufficient 120-day ‘fires moratorium’.

‘The numbers once more show the truth the Brazilian government is trying to hide: deforestation in the Amazon is still out of control and continues to increase.

‘The data also confirms deforestation in the Amazon is not the result of poverty and despair of people in a situation of great vulnerability. It’s about organised crime, sponsored by big land holders, cattle ranchers and land grabbers that operate with impunity, shielded by the dismantling of the environmental protection policies and law enforcement that the Bolsonaro administration continues to advance in Brazil.’

Greenpeace Brazil campaigner

Cutting ties with forest destroyers

The destruction of forests releases millions of tonnes of CO2, accelerating climate change, biodiversity loss and increasing the risk of future pandemics.

Greenpeace is demanding companies like Tesco end business with forest destroyers and governments align trade to support resilient economies that put nature and people first.

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