Published: Saturday, April 26, 2008
RIO DE JANEIRO -- More of the Amazon rainforest should be cut down to
make way for farmland to help ease the global food crisis, the governor
of a big Brazilian farming state was quoted on Friday as saying.
Blairo Maggi, the governor of Mato Grosso state and Brazil's largest
soy producer, was quoted in the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper as
"With the worsening of the global food crisis, the time is coming
when it will be inevitable to discuss whether we preserve the
environment or produce more food. There is no way to produce more food
without occupying more land and taking down more trees," said Maggi, a
farming pioneer in the vast western state who is widely known as the
"King of Soy."
"In this moment of crisis, the world needs to understand that the
country has space to raise its production."
Folha said the areas with the most deforestation, legal and illegal,
in the second half of 2007 were in Mato Grosso, a huge agricultural
state in western Brazil still half covered by rainforest.
Brazil's booming economy, soy farming and cattle ranching have put
pressure on land prices and fueled deforestation.
Official figures released in January showed that between August and
December of last year, about 7,000 square kilometres (2,700 square
miles) were chopped down illegally in the Amazon rainforest. It was the
first increase in deforestation after three years of declines and
coincided with a rise in global food prices.
© The Vancouver Sun 2008
We humans have mounted various levels of assault against the entire
biosphere. The top level is global, which is dominated by climate
change. The second level is regional, and the most devastating of the
various regional assaults is arguably Amazon deforestation.
There are five major causes of Amazon deforestation:
1. slash and burn agriculture
2. non-native colonization
3. commercial logging
4. cattle ranching
5. soy/sugar-cane cultivation
(see www.HOPE-CARE.org , global
warming section, tropical forest subsection)
Of these, soy and sugar-cane cultivation is the newest and
potentially most destructive.
Brazilian sugar-cane cultivation is mostly for producing ethanol as
bio-fuel for North American consumption. So, the onus comes back to us.
Brazilian soy cultivation is for producing feed for cattle and
ethanol as bio-fuel, and most of both Brazilian beef and Brazilian
ethanol are for North American consumption. The onus likewise.
And of course the Brazilian cattle industry also need new land, whose
main customer is North America. The onus likewise.
Of course this "new land" means the Amazon rainforest, or what
remains of it.
As if these are not tough enough, now there is a new pressure: world
food shortage. So the sugar cane and soy have to feed millions of hungry
human mouths too.
World food shortage is not exactly unexpected, but as in most
"unproven" concepts, no global plan exists to first prevent it, and
second to remedy it. So, the knee jerk reaction is, you got it, to hack
up the Amazon some more to plant more food crops.
The Amazon is not just a sea of green. It contains one quarter to one
third of the world's biodiversity. Considering 20 million existing
species worldwide, we are talking about 5-7 million species. The Amazon
is already under immense pressure from global warming (drying); it
doesn't need more direct human assault.
How much more is the Catholic Church going to promote and enforce the
"go forth and multiply" policy?
Meanwhile, what we little people have to do include:
1. Do not eat beef.
2. Do not use ethanol as fuel.
3. Do not drive gas guzzlers
4. Do not use Brazilian lumber.
5. Please sign the Global Green Fund petition and add a powerful
comment. Go to:
And please distribute the petition far and wide. The whole world has
to work together on this one.
The US and Brazil are the world's top 2 ethanol and beef producers.
Their Big-Boys-Club backroom deal can turn your stomach. In March 2007,
Market Watch Weekend edition reported:
"... Brazil wants to become the world's hub for biofuels. It's
already the world's leading sugarcane ethanol producer and just entered
into a partnership with the U.S. to promote world ethanol use. Brazil
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has said repeatedly that Brazil's
agricultural revolution depends on a future where "we plant and harvest
Anthony Marr, founder and president
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)