“Hamburger connection”

At first sight it’s not easy to relate hamburgers and steaks to the disappearance of animal and vegetal species and the deforestation of the Tropics. In Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala and other countries of Central and Latin America, tropical forests are burnt down to make space for cattle breeding. In 1980, it was calculated that 72% of the Amazonian region of Brazil was deforested to obtain cattle pastures. The United States import 33% of all the beef of the world’s market and therefore almost all the meat produced by Tropical pastures; Europe also imports meat from Tropical America and Africa. To produce the meat of just two hamburgers in a tropical forest involves an area of approximately 24 square metres, which is as much as the surface of your classroom. This area, that produces 100 g of minced meat, accommodates on average over 500 kg of living matter, plants, flowers, butterflies, birds, monkeys. It has been calculated that a primary tropical forest takes 600 to 1,000 years to re-form. In addition, burning or destroying a tropical forest to use the land as pasture or farmland makes the soil sterile in few years, because of the rains washing away the few nutrients contained in the tropical soil.

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