De onde vem a carne que comemos?

About 40% of the Brazilian beef cattle is in the Amazon, the largest tropical forest in the world.
At least 89 million of more than 214 million of beef cattle raised in Brazil are located in the states of Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, Tocantins and Maranhão. For that reason, chances are that the beef you – and the rest of the world – consume comes from a pasture that, one day, was part of the Amazon Forest.
Brazil is the second largest world producer and the largest exporter of beef. The country produces 15% of all of the beef consumed globally. Such activity plays a fundamental role in the Brazilian economy – it corresponds to 32% of the agribusiness GDP. In 2020, 10.10 million tons equivalent to beef carcass were produced in Brazil, whereas 5.9 million for internal consumption (74%) and 2.7 million (26%) destined for the foreign market. The problem is that the way beef is produced today makes a major environmental impact.


Cattle raising is the main driver of deforestation in the Amazon: according to studies carried out by Imazon (Amazon Institute of People and the Environment) and Amazon 2030 project, cattle pastures cover about 90% of the deforested lands, and more than 90% of the total deforestation is illegal.

The MapbiomasMapbiomas, a network of experts that monitor the transformations in the use of land, estimates that about 10% of the total area of the Amazon – 52.9 million hectares – have already been transformed into pastures.

Deforestation puts at risk the existence of the largest tropical forest on the planet, causes loss of biodiversity and also threatens the climate in Brazil and around the world. That because the Amazon is home to a huge amount of carbon within its ecosystem. Forest clearance releases the carbon stock stored in trunks and leaves (equivalent to almost one decade of global greenhouse gas emissions), contributing not only to the advance of climate changes but also to the very destruction of the forest and, consequently, of an important mechanism of regulation of the global and regional climate.
Additionally, the transpiration of trees in the Amazon moves currents of water steam that are responsible for about 70% of rainfalls in the South and Southeast of Brazil, regions that concentrate an important part of the agriculture in the country. That means that deforestation can affect even the food production – and food prices in supermarkets.


It is very difficult to make sure that the beef we consume did not cause deforestation during its production.
That happens because of the way the beef production chain works in Brazil.

It consists of three years and a long way from the moment the calf is born to the moment beef is ready for consumption. In many cases, the cow goes through many ranches in their life cycle – that means several cleared pasture areas, that, one day, were part of the Amazon Forest.
These animals are usually born in a ranch specialized in cattle breeding, the so-called breeding farms. Once weaned, calves are sent to re-breeding farms, where they go through a fattening period that lasts up to one year and a half. In that phase, they are moved to the farm where they will stay until the moment of slaughter, to gain more weight. The fattening farms are the ones that sell the animals to slaughterhouses where they are slaughtered. Beef can be processed – and become from skewers to burgers – in the very slaughterhouses or in other companies specialized in preparing such food (meatpackers). From there, they get to supermarkets – and to the consumers’ hands.
Since the production cycle is long and fragmented – animals can go through several ranches –, it is hard for consumers, at the end of that chain, to obtain the information about the compliance with the social and environmental legislation of all the producers involved in the process. According to IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), at least one third of the farms that raise cattle in Brazil are breeding and re-breeding farms.
With a pioneering initiative, Radar Verde publicly reveals to consumers the level of control slaughterhouses and supermarkets have over the fight against deforestation in each link of the production chain of the beef they sell. This way, it is possible to give preference to the companies that have strict social and environmental policies in order to guarantee that their – direct and indirect – suppliers adopt zero tolerance towards deforestation.