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 June 03, 2009
Livestock industry fuelling destruction of Amazonia

 Paris, France -- The cattle industry is the biggest driver of destruction of the Amazonian rain forest, Greenpeace said on Wednesday, in a report that called for trade and financial retaliation against illegal ranchers.

In a report timed to coincide with UN talks on climate change, the campaign group said clearance of the Amazon had helped give Brazil the world's largest cattle sector and made it the world's largest exporter of beef.

But this has come at a tragic cost for biodiversity and global warming, it said.

One hectare (2.5 acres) of Amazon rainforest is being lost to cattle ranchers every 18 seconds, it said.

The cattle sector in the Brazilian Amazon is responsible for more than one-seventh of the world's annual deforestation, which makes it a huge contributor to the greenhouse effect, it alleged.

Greenpeace pointed the finger at the Brazilian government, which has pledged to protect the Amazon yet at the same time promotes the livestock industry through state-owned corporations and a credit line of 41 billion dollars and turns a blind eye to land grabbing.

But there was also a complex corporate web, involving blue-chip companies that, apparently unknowingly, buy significant amounts of beef and leather products from ranches involved in illegal deforestation, the report added.

"In effect, criminal or 'dirty' supplies of cattle are laundered through the supply chain to an unwitting global market," it said.

The report said there was a long list of reputable global brands and retailers that had an "Amazon-contaminated supply chain," including Adidas, BMW, Carrefour, Ford, Honda, Gucci, IKEA, Kraft, Tesco, Toyota and Wal-Mart.

"Global brands are silent partners to crime," it said.

"Their blind consumption of raw materials fuels deforestation and climate change."

Greenpeace urged an end to trade and financial ties with ranchers or companies involved in the destruction of the Amazon.

"World governments, multilateral funding agencies such as the World Bank and global corporations all have a role to play," it said.

Source: Canwest News Service