Brazilian Rain Forests Being Cleared for Cattle Grazing

You may not be aware, but the beef in that hamburger or taco you just ate, may have come form a cow raised in Brazil, now one of the world’s largest cattle producers. While this may not seem like a big deal, especially since most cattle raised there are range or grass fed cattle, it may shock you to learn that raising in South America’s largest country, comes at the expense of depleting Brazil’s greatest natural asset – its tropical rain forests.

In order to raise cattle, large sections of forests are being burned or cut down in order to turn these areas into grasslands suitable for grazing cattle. Brazil has the world’s largest cattle populations and has become the largest beef exporter, even surpassing countries like the U.S.A. and Argentina. But being the largest beef producer and exporter on the planet comes at a price; and that price is a rapid depletion of the rain forests, attributed to supplying close to 20% of the world’s oxygen supply, as swell as being the 4th largest contributor of greenhouse gasses, after China, the U.S.A., and Indonesia. Farmers are burning down the forests so quickly, that a large area in Mato Grosso state (the country’s second largest province) was literally turned into a massive cattle producing factory, complete with huge slaughterhouses for processing all that beef from a cattle population now numbering more than 65 million!

In a ten year period, 1996-2006, an area the size of Portugal, Brazil’s founder country, has been turned into grassland to feed a cattle herd that has grown by more than 20 million animals in a four year period alone.

The Amazon basin, where the world’s largest tropical rain forest is still located, now has more than 15 million cattle. Cattle themselves are responsible for creating a good part of the world’s greenhouse gases, and studies have shown that it takes 13 times the resources to raise cattle over chicken, and 75 more resources than is required for raising crops like potatoes. Clearing forest for cattle raising is not the only environmental problem that Brazil is facing as large tracks of forestland is also being cleared to grow crops like sugar cane and sorghum that are used in the production of ethanol, used as a “bio-fuel” in automobiles and other equipment. Besides contributing so much to world’s oxygen supply the Amazon rainforests, containing one or the most unique eco-systems on the planet. This vast “green region” also helps regulate the world’s rainfall and climate, as well as being the home for some of the most exotic plants and animals on earth. And this region is also “home” for millions of Native Brazilians or Indian tribes who live entirely off the plant and animal life found in the rain forests. When the Amazon is turned more and more into land for growing cattle and bio-fuel crops, it affects the indigenous people living there as well.

It is estimated that 75% of Brazil’s total greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation alone.

Brazil’s cattle industry is not likely to decrease any time soon; and agronomists are now looking for ways to grow cattle by more intensive farming methods that would require less land. But even so, every time one of those 65+million bovines chews it’s cud, it naturally releases a certain quantity of greenhouse gas that adds to the overall amount of greenhouse in the atmosphere and intensifies the world’s global warming problem.

It is estimated that 75% of Brazil’s total greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation alone.

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