November 30th, 2007

The Beef with Brazilian Beef

Excerpt from the introduction: (Read about the report in Spanish.)

Beef from Brazil may taste fine and have an attractive price, but the reasons to ban it from being imported into the European Union are beginning to mount. Despite the EU‚ 176 percent tariff on Brazilian beef, cattle farmers in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy and elsewhere say the imported meat is still so cheap that it threatens to put them out of business.

Brazilian beef also poses numerous risks to European consumers — from the use of EU-banned hormones to traceability problems to bio, security lapses. Even though it has not eradicated foot, and, mouth disease, Brazil can still ship beef to Europe. European farmers whose cattle have been hit with the disease, however, face costly bans that have deprived them of millions of Euro in lost beef sales.

Environmental protection and human rights are also at stake. To make way for huge, factory, style cattle operations, rainforests in Brazil are being slashed, and, burned by slave labourers, who live in shacks and reportedly have been chained to trees and shot.

The dilemma has created a stand,off between members of the European Parliament who want Brazilian beef banned from the EU, and the European Commission, which has acknowledged serious problems with Brazil‚ meat production system but says a ban is premature and unjustified.