Writer Katie Byng-Hall takes a closer look at the amazonian crisis
Huge companies in the UK are sourcing their produce from the Amazon and the areas surrounding it, thus contributing to the destruction of one of the Earth’s most biodiverse and beautiful habitats.
The primary use for the land in around the Amazon is agricultural production. This industry is detrimental to the planet. 80% of global deforestation is in aid of agricultural expansion, which is also the leading cause of habitat loss. Producing animal products is the biggest problem, with 60% of greenhouse emissions from agricultural production originating in animal agriculture.
On top of this, Brazilian farmers’ method of clearing land in the Amazon by setting fires led to widespread blazes across the rainforest in 2019, with 2.5 million hectares of the forest being destroyed in August 2019 alone. This would not have happened had the agriculture industry not been so prevalent in the area.The commodities most linked to deforestation are cattle, palm oil, and soya, all of which are manufactured in the Amazon, and are bought by British companies.
Burger King sources beef from the Amazon, and KFC sources some of its meat from there as well. In 1986, McDonald’s promised not to source from the Amazon any more, but back-tracked in 2016. They are operating under a Zero Deforestation Plan, meaning they only source goods when no deforestation is required to produce them, but it is arguable that this isn’t enough to justify sourcing produce from such an environmentally important and vulnerable area.
The Problem of Soy
Soy is one of the less talked-about crops included in agricultural production, but in the case of the Amazon, it’s one of the main causes of deforestation. Since 2010, the area planted with soy in Brazil has increased by 45%. Much of this soy is owned by Cargill, one of the world's biggest producers and distributors of agricultural produce. Britain imported 394,000 tons of soy from Brazil in 2015, roughly 70% of which was bought from Cargill. One of the company’s biggest clients is McDonalds, who sources the majority of its soy chicken-feed from the supplier.
In 2007, soy traders including Cargill agreed to stop sourcing from the Brazilian Amazon, but the area is still affected as they now grow their crops in the nearby Bolivian Amazon and Brazilian savanna named the Cerrado. An area twice the size of Greater London has been razed in the Bolivian Amazon every year since 2011. Even when the Brazilian Amazon is out of bounds, companies still find a way to destroy the world’s invaluable habitats to meet the growing demand for soy.
How to Make this Stop
Mass consumption of meat has become a feature of consumerism which threatens the Earth’s forests. You can refuse to participate in this by changing your habits.
You may choose to stop eating meat or animal products altogether. This will contribute, even the tiniest bit, towards fighting the rise in deforestation and emissions.
If this isn’t an option for you, instead boycott companies such as Burger King and McDonald’s who source from the Amazon. Try cooking your own delicious meals using meat and soy alternatives, ideally from British farmers, thus reducing your carbon footprint.
It's clear to see detrimental effect that agricultural production has on the Amazon, and it's time to start pressuring companies to stop sourcing from there. Through refining your consumer trend and lifestyle the natural habitats across the world have a better opportunity to thrive.
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