Despite commitments, Brazil’s beef sector tainted by purchases from protected lands in Amazon basin

Depending on where it’s from, your next steak could come with a side of illegal deforestation.

That’s because despite improvements by meatpackers to keep their supply chains free of cattle grazed on protected or illegally deforested lands, many slaughterhouses in Brazil — the world’s top beef exporter — continue to purchase illegally pastured animals on a large scale.

A new study published Oct. 18 in the journal Conservation Letters underscores the depth of the problem. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Vrije University Amsterdam found that over a 5-year period, millions of cattle slaughtered for beef spent at least part of their lives grazing in protected areas of the Brazilian Amazon, including on indigenous lands.

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