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Climate ChangeEnvironment

Behind the 100% Italian steak is the deforestation of Gran Chaco in Argentina

The deforestation of Gran Chaco has already destroyed 14 million hectares, more than the entire Italian agricultural area

(Sustainabilityenvironment.com) – Take a liter of milk, a chicken breast, a pork chop, or a cow fillet. All entirely Italian products. In more than one in three cases, by buying these foods you have unintentionally contributed to the destruction of Argentina’s richest biodiversity ecosystem through the deforestation of the Gran Chaco. How? The fat of soy flour is a central ingredient in the diet of farms for its high protein value. Italy imports half of the needs; of this share, 77% comes from the South American country. Where, however, only soya is produced from genetically modified seeds.

The American Chaco is South America’s second-largest forest system, after the Amazon. The largest and most important dry forest on the planet. The deforestation of Gran Chaco has already destroyed 14 million hectares, more than the entire Italian agricultural area. In the Chaco live more than 3400 species of plants, 500 species of birds, 150 mammals and more than 200 reptiles and amphibians.

Spotlight on Gran Chaco deforestation

To reconstruct the supply chain and identify the area of origin of the soy used in formulas from the zootechny of the Italy is the report “Soy – The way of ecocide” which worked NGOs Periodistas por el Planeta, Mother Brava, Somos Monte and the Italian Fairwatch. “The three main wheat traders exporting Argentine soya and soya flour to Italy are the Chinese Cofco, the Argentine Aceitera General Deheza and the American Bunge, respectively with 712, 298 and 282 thousand tons in 2019,” write the authors. “We were able to verify that these same sellers have huge harvesting plants in the areas devastated by the deforestation of the northern provinces of Argentina”.

Read also The forest-saving steak? It is based on microbial proteins

There are good reasons to worry about Argentinian soy flour and the choices of the Italian supply chain. Among agricultural products linked to deforestation, soya is the main cause of deforestation associated with European consumption. Indeed, soya for feeding European chickens, pigs and cows has caused more deforestation than any other product imported into the EU between 2005 and 2017, even more than palm oil.

Then, because it is all the Italian animal husbandry that uses Argentine soy. “It is not possible to link a single product to the deforestation of Gran Chaco, since soya flour is used throughout the Italian food chain”, explains the report. Not only that. Soybeans produced in the north, where this ecosystem is located, are mixed with soybeans produced in the Pampa region. The mix is destined for the Italian peninsula, so all the flour is contaminated with the soy fruit of deforestation. This will increase, however, if Europe gives the green light to the EU-Mercosur Treaty, the free trade agreement with four Latin American countries.

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