Yesterday the Brazilian beef exporter Bertin reported that it had signed a pact with Greenpeace to refuse to buy cattle from deforested parts of the Amazon. Greenpeace claims that the Brazilian Amazon cattle industry is the largest driver of deforestaton in the world, responsible for 14% of the world's annual deforestation. Bertin is the top leather exporter in Brazil and the country's second-largest beef exporter.

According to the Reuters report, Bertin has agreed to register and map (using satellite images) the ranches from which it buys cattle and to ban purchases of cattle from any deforested areas. By 2011, it will “expand systems that enable it to trace cattle from the farms to its facilities, including rearing and nursery farms.”

In June, Greenpeace International published “Slaughtering the Amazon,” an Executive Summary detailing the role that the Brazilian cattle industry is playing in global deforestation. According to a recent Guardian story, the cattle business is rapidly expanding as global demand for beef soars and “now poses the biggest threat to the 80% of the original forest that still stands.”

In the statement released yesterday, Bertin's vice president Fernando Falco said, “We already had a system to avoid buying from illegally deforested areas, now we're including legally cleared areas.” Doubtless Greenpeace will be monitoring Bertin's movements as closely as the beef exporter will be tracking those cows. Perhaps more so.

LA Weekly