Amazon fires threaten Brazil's agribusiness

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Science  27 Sep 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6460, pp. 1387
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz2198

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  • Brazilian agribusiness is not as threatened as it looks
    • Éder Johnson de Area Leão Pereira, Professor, Instituto Federal do Maranhão – campus Bacabal. Avenida Governador João Alberto, s/n, Areal, Bacabal/MA, CEP 65700-000.
    • Other Contributors:
      • Luisa Maria Diele-Viegas, Postdoctoral researcher, Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia em Ecologia, Evolução e Conservação da Biodiversidade, Universidade Federal da Bahia
      • Hernane Borges de Barros Pereira, Professor, Programa de Modelagem Computacional, SENAI Cimatec, Salvador, Brazil, Av. Orlando Gomes, 1845 – Piatã, Salvador – Ba, 41650 Préd

    The newly published article by Arruda, Cândido & Fonseca (1) reports the possible negative impacts of the Amazon fires in August 2019 on the Brazilian agribusiness, mainly for the European market. However, it is important to address some additional issues before defining if agribusiness will be really harmed.
    First, the expectations for meat export increased due to the bilateral trade agreement between European Union and Mercosur (trade bloc of which Brazil is part of), signed in June 2019. The European Union is the World’s largest agricultural importer, reaching $182 billion only in 2018. Brazil is one of their biggest commercial partners in this sector (2), so the reduction of tariffs can make it even more competitive in these exports, increasing the demand for production of agricultural goods (3). Despite the clauses focused on forest preservation, such as the requirement of ranchers to produce in a non-deforested area, this agreement can be harmful for forest preservation. The livestock is the biggest cause of deforestation in Legal Amazon, being responsible for 65% of vegetation loss (4). Besides, it is also responsible for near half of Brazilian greenhouse gases emissions, considering deforestation, pasture burning and bovine enteric fermentation (5). Thus, an increase in cattle exports may lead not only to an increase of deforestation, but also to an increase in greenhouse gases emissions, enhancing the local and global effects of climate change.

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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