World Bank Loan Beefs-up Amazon Threat

BRAZIL - Environmentalists have claimed that deforestation and climate change, are set to worsen in the Amazon rainforest, following the World Bank's sponsorship of a major loan to Brazil's second-largest beef processors.
calendar icon 14 October 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

The expansion of Brazil's cattle industry is widely regarded as being one of the greatest single threats to the Amazon rainforest, reports Aljazeera. Within Brazil's Amazon region there are about 75 million heads of cattle that account for 300,000 tonnes of beef exports per year,

According to the news agency, the criticism comes after the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector lending arm of the World Bank Group, lent Bertin Ltda $90m last year to expand and modernise its beef processing and slaughterhouse operations.

The IFC's own pre-loan analysis called the loan "significant" because the effects could prove to be "irreversible and/or unprecedented".

As world demand for Brazilian beef increases, farmers need more land to rear cattle to supply industrial slaughterhouses in the region, so huge areas of forest are often cut down for cattle grazing.

"Each year Brazil is losing 1.8 million hectares of Amazon forest and the cattle industry is responsible for between 70 and 80 per cent of that I would say," Mario Menezes, the adjunct director of the environmental group Sao Paulo-based Amigos da Terra and a co-author of an exhaustive study published earlier this year examining the cattle industry in the Amazon, told Aljazeera.

Brazil exports more beef than any other country in the world, but many international consumers are unaware that nearly 41 per cent of all of all cattle processed in Brazil comes from the Amazon region – one of the world's most important natural ecosystems.

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