The false meat controversy

Regardless of whether you consume beef or not, it is in everyone’s interest to know the exact origin of the protein. Around the world, the decision to eat animal meat or not involves price, religious and spiritual beliefs, convictions about animal welfare, and increasingly the concern about its origin and relationship with the planet’s climate.

And this is more than correct. To think that in the middle of the year 2022 we still do not have complete information on the origin of animal and plant-based products, provided in a transparent way by all producers and industries is, at the very least, , frustrating.

In the specific case of beef produced in Brazil, part of the production chain is related to deforested and illegally occupied areas. The lack of traceability and total transparency in this chain prevents us from being able to differentiate between producers who commit illegal acts and those who comply with the law. Likewise, it makes it difficult to identify those who adopt good pasture, feeding and slaughter management practices, reducing methane emissions — one of the gases that generate the greenhouse effect and climate change.

Despite not yet a widespread debate in Brazil, the discussion is already a pulsating reality in some age groups, especially in generations Z and millennials. This fact brings opportunities that cannot be missed, either by the government in light of international zero-deforestation commitments recently assumed by the country at the COP26, or by companies and investors to guarantee the market and investments in innovations in the area.

Ignoring the relevance of this debate is a mistake, whether on the part of ranchers, investors or generations of consumers who still do not choose the products they buy based on the ethical conduct of the companies.

Cattle ranchers who do not adapt to good practices of sustainable production, and to strict legal compliance, may lose both the foreign and domestic markets, in addition to eventually finding themselves being held accountable for illicit practices that were never part of their business objectives.

Investors, in turn, not only fail to meet ESG metrics, but may miss out on investment opportunities in carbon-neutral producers and innovations from companies that produce plant-based meat, and who develop meat in laboratories.

And consumers, finally, fail to exercise their power to encourage the efficient production of animal protein, with low environmental and climate impact, and to value producers aligned with the protection of nature. ​

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The good news is that there is no shortage of good examples. Brazil already exports traceable, deforestation-free beef to the European Union and other markets that require it, and already has leading-edge producers who develop a sustainable livestock model, but who still compete unequally for market with their peers who do not comply with the law.

The year of 26 was full of public positions from large banks and investment funds on the subject, as well as commitments by large meatpackers to greater control over their suppliers, and announcements about their new investments in the plant-based meat market.

In the midst of false controversies, there is a real opportunity to boost innovation capacity. of Brazilian agribusiness. With commitments and practical examples, all links in the production chains – from the financier, the agro-industry, to the small producer, can direct investment towards sustainable, transparent practices and technologies in line with environmental regulations.

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