Tropical deforestation is responsible for about 10 percent of global warming emissions—and no product contributes more to tropical deforestation than beef. Each year, millions of hectares of forest are cleared for beef pasture, releasing carbon into the atmosphere and destroying habitat of endangered species. The deforestation impact of beef is greatest in South America, where beef was responsible for nearly three-quarters of total deforestation between 1990 and 2005.
But beef can be produced without deforestation. A combination of industry agreements and government policies has begun to reduce beef’s deforestation impact in the Brazilian Amazon. Though encouraging, these measures have been limited in scope, targeting only certain suppliers and regions. Truly deforestation-free supply chains will require more comprehensive policies and practices.