Sat. Feb 27th, 2021

Politicians and meatpackers in Brazil’s Amazonian state of Pará gathered for a celebration in September 2019, cheering the official announcement that four processing plants in the state had won approval to export to mainland China. Photos show delighted participants posing with boxes of meat products “The ability to enter the Chinese market is something that meat processing plants in our state have been requesting since 2011,” said governor Helder Barbalho who had lobbied hard for the licenses. Decades of growth in cattle ranching have mean Pará is now the state with the largest herd nationwide at 20.6 million head, equivalent to 2.5 cattle for every inhabitant. At the same time, the region has also broken records for deforestation, sharpening the focus on its contribution to climate change. Rampant destruction The Amazon region suffered a fire season in August 2019 that shocked the world. And the destruction has continued into 2020. Barbalho explained the fires were “burning the forest to make pasture”. In the last twelve months, Pará lost almost 3,000 square kilometres of forest, an area almost the size of Beijing, becoming the state that has destroyed most rainforest in Brazil during this period. Environmental devastation was not mentioned in publicly disclosed documents about recent agreements between Brazil and China on beef, as political and economic pressures dominated the negotiations. The lengthy certification process for meat processing plants focuses almost exclusively on sanitary standards, as can be seen from the applications forms, hearings, and protocols analyzed by Diálogo Chino for…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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