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WWF blames meat production for Brazilian deforestation

By Melodie Michel , 02-Mar-2012

Related topics: Environment, Livestock, France, Brazil

The meat industry’s dependency on soya bean to feed animals is the main cause of deforestation in the Brazilian region of Cerrado, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) argues.

The French branch of the organisation has released a report denouncing the intensive use of soya bean in the French meat and poultry industry, saying it is deteriorating South American ecosystems.

Released during the biggest yearly agricultural forum in France, ‘Meat: an after-taste of deforestation’ explains that soya is country’s biggest agricultural import, and that its intensive monoculture is participating in the deforestation in South America.

“In Brazil, the amount of land dedicated to soya production went from 1.7m to 21.7m hectares in just 40 years. This exponential increase generated massive deforestation from the Atlantic forest to the Amazon Rainforest,” WWF said.

According to the organisation, France imported 4.6m tonnes of soya bean in 2010, 90% of which were destined for animal feed. France is the world’s third soya importer, and sources 70% of it in South America. The poultry and egg sector represents 58% of the soya used in animal feed, while 30% is fed to cattle and 12% to pigs.

WWF added that the Cerrado region was the most affected by the deforestation, having already lost 49% of its 2m km² of wooded savannah to soya fields, despite sheltering 5% of the world’s biodiversity.

“Whereas actions are being taken for other products causing deforestation, such as paper, wood and palm oil, we are still waiting for initiatives on the issue of soya in animal feed,” WWF said.

The organisation pointed to alternatives, including the Round Table on Responsible Soya Association’s (RTRS’s) certification, guaranteeing ethical soy production that does not invade natural habitats. “This certification is a first step towards soya production’s sustainability,” it said.

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