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In Spite of Environmental Concerns, Europe Continues to Buy Brazilian Beef

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Cattle stand on a farm on June 26th, 2017 in Itapua do Oeste, Rondonia state, Brazil. 

May is not even half over, but it has already been a landmark month for environmental news: last week the United Nations IPBES issued its preliminary global assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, finding that humans in both the developed and developing world are now the biggest driver of biodiversity loss. This comes hot on the heels of the U.K. parliament declaring a “climate emergency,” along with increasing pressure applied on the E.U. to regulate commodities that cause deforestation.

One major instigator of all these environmental emergencies: cows, lots of them, and meat producers.

Cattle are a key driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America, responsible for between 60 to 80 percent of Amazon tree loss, which contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.

A new report, also out in May, shines a spotlight on the U.K. and major European supermarkets that are potentially fueling illegal deforestation by doing business with Brazil’s cattle industry—particularly with beef producer, JBS. The retail chains continue to stock corned beef sourced from the firm which has been implicated in serious environmental and human rights abuses, according to U.K. investigative organization Earthsight.

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