Green Radar will help consumers make more informed choices when buying meat

Green Radar will help consumers make more informed choices when buying meat

With the expansion of cattle farming in the Amazon and the increased connectivity between markets, it’s hard to know if the meat you’re buying is related to rainforest destruction. Reflecting on this reality, the Instituto do Homem e do Meio Ambiente da Amazônia (Imazon) and the Instituto O Mundo que Quero have developed a tool to help consumers make more informed choices when purchasing bovine products.

The tool, called Radar Verde, launched this Wednesday (27), will collect data on the transparency and control of the production chain of 113 meat processing plants installed in the Amazon and the 50 largest supermarket chains in Brazil, according to the rating of the Brazilian Association. supermarkets. (abras). In addition, Legal Amazon will also provide access to figures for the top three local supermarkets in each state.

To collect data on chain transparency and control, meatpacking plants and supermarkets will receive a questionnaire that will support the analysis carried out by the partners in the initiative. In addition to answering the questions on this questionnaire, companies will be required to provide evidence supporting the policy described.

Based on this information, Radar Verde’s partners will provide a rating for each meatpacking plant and supermarket, indicating to the consumer whether the policy applied against deforestation is effective, on a scale from “very high” to “very low”.

It is expected that in the second half of 2022 the data on the current policies of the companies will be available to the consumer, which will be updated annually.

The developers of the tool explain that Radar Verde is not intended to be a ranking, but rather a source of advice on each business’s annual assessment, showing consumers how companies and meatpackers are involved in combating deforestation in the Amazon and improving their tracking and auditing techniques. Comparisons will be made between individual results achieved each year.

Why do you need a radar?

Cattle ranching is the largest driver of deforestation in the Amazon. In the past three decades alone, the number of cattle in the biome has grown by 258%, currently reaching about 89 million cattle.

To understand what these numbers mean, just compare them to the total production in Brazil: in 1975, rainforest cattle accounted for 9% of the national total, in 2020 this number has jumped to 43%.

However, many trees have been cut down to achieve this growth. According to measurements from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), between 1988 and 2021, 470,000 km² of forest was cut down in the Amazon. According to a study by Imazon and the Amazon 2030 project, about 90% of these areas have been converted to pasture, with more than 90% of the destruction taking place illegally.

“Livestock in the Amazon is becoming the mainstay in Brazil and we are expanding extensively, meaning we require a lot of grazing for small cattle,” said Ritaumaria Pereira, CEO of Imazon.

In the last three decades alone, the Amazon cattle population has grown by 258% and currently stands at about 89 million cattle. Photo: Marcio Isensee and Sa.

everyone’s responsibility

There are currently 178 refrigeration units installed within Legal Amazon, 174 of which are operational. Of this total, 56% operate under the rules of livestock chain sustainability agreements such as the Meat TAC signed with the MPF and prohibiting the purchase of meat from suppliers involved in illegal logging, slave labor or livestock in protected areas.

Since the signing of the TAC, deforestation associated with cattle ranching in the Amazon has decreased by 85%, Ritaumaria said. However, the level of deforestation continues to rise: according to INPE, 13,235 km² of vegetation was cut down in the Amazon in 2021 alone.

“Even after 13 years of TAC operation, there are still problems related to livestock and deforestation. […] If a meat company that has signed a TAC stops buying from a particular farmer because he doesn’t meet the TAC, the one that didn’t sign works in the same area and he ends up buying. This is unfair competition, because TAS has not reached all meat processing plants.”

Considering that 93% of the total deforestation between 2016 and 2020 overlaps with meat purchasing zones, it can be concluded that a large part of this meat chain must adapt to the criteria of sustainability agreements. This is where the consumer comes in to put pressure on refrigerators and retailers.

“The stakeholders who should be dealing with this issue have not fought against deforestation. Who they are: Retailers who continue to sell meat of dubious provenance and financiers who continue to pay tribute to loggers. The beauty of this project is that it puts the responsibility on consumers who were blind in the process. To the extent that this transparency is achieved, they will be able to choose between permissiveness or responsibility regarding deforestation issues,” said Fabio Alperovic, investment sector representative in the livestock chain.

The idea behind the Imazon and Mundo que Quero initiative is that Radar Verde is encouraging the participation of meat producers and supermarkets in demanding more control and transparency from their suppliers.

“Based on the figures to be made public, we expect retailers to put pressure on meat processors, especially those that do not track the origin of raw materials, and we also hope that consumers will put pressure on retailers to adopt a more sustainable meat purchasing policy,” said Rafael da Silva Rocha, the Amazonas State Attorney.

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