Deforestation & Big Food

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This peat soil in Sumatra, Indonesia, was formerly a forest. Clearing and draining such land releases huge amounts of greenhouse gases. Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

The solutions are never easy with regard to climate change; for every bit of good news there is a dose of bad news in the form of realism:

So they have to rely on others, such as organizations that put their stamp of approval on particular suppliers, to verify that a particular shipment of palm oil came from land that hadn’t been cleared of trees recently.

What’s more, they know even less about the origin of their soybeans or beef. “In the lifetime of [a] Brazilian cow, it goes through many owners and many farms, and it is almost impossible to check on all the farms, that they are not associated with deforestation,” Streck says.

Finally, it’s hard to know whether the companies that have pledged to shun deforestation actually control a big enough share of the market to make a difference.

Companies with headquarters in Europe or North America account for about 90 percent of the corporate anti-deforestation commitments. Those companies are major players in the palm oil trade, but not in beef production in the deforestation hot spots of Brazil.

“Most of the beef in Latin America – about 80 percent – is eaten in Latin America,” Streck says. “So that means that the consumer pressure in Europe and North America has limited effect.”

That’s a particular problem because beef is “by far the largest driver of deforestation,’ she says. “The carbon footprint of beef related to deforestation is about nine times bigger than palm oil.”…

Read the whole story here.

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