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Award-Winning Film Explores Deforestation and Cattle Industry in the Brazilian Amazon

Anna (Anya) Prusa

There are 85 million cows in the Brazilian Amazon: three times as many cows as people. The recent documentary Grazing the Amazon examines the economic and environmental reality behind this statistic, through thought-provoking interviews with cattle ranchers, slaughterhouse owners, government officials, and environmental activists.

Award-Winning Film Explores Deforestation and Cattle Industry in the Brazilian Amazon

There are 85 million cows in the Brazilian Amazon: three times as many cows as people. Their presence has proven to be something of a Roschach test, with proponents arguing that the cattle industry is the economic lifeblood of the region while others see it as destroying the critical and irreplaceable resource that is the Amazon forest. Agriculture is a key driver of the Brazilian economy, accounting for almost 24 percent of the country's GDP in 2017, and Brazil is expected to play a critical role in feeding the rapidly growing global population. Yet since the 1970s, approximately 20 percent of the Brazilian Amazon has been cleared. Although the deforestation rate has fallen in the last decade, the forest remains under pressure from industry and agriculture. Both sides agree, however, that the Brazilian government's environmental regulations go largely unenforced.

The recent film Grazing the Amazon examines this challenging issue at depth, through thought-provoking interviews with cattle ranchers—including some who have adopted and advocate sustainable practices—, slaughterhouse owners, government officials, and environmental activists. Although the documentary focuses on the conflict between environmentalism and agriculture in Brazil, it also shows that there is a better way forward: the use of more sustainable cattle ranching practices, which require less land per pound of beef, and incentives to promote the use of already-degraded Amazon lands for cattle ranching instead of further deforestation.

GRAZING THE AMAZON

PRODUCED BY: ((O))ECO

DIRECTED BY: MARCIO ISENSEE E SÁ - DIRETOR, EDUARDO PEGURIER E PAULO ANDRÉ VIEIRA - PRODUÇÃO EXECUTIVA, JULIANA TINOCO - ROTEIRO, BERNARDO CAMARA - PRODUÇÃO, PAULO BARRETO E EDUARDO PEGURIER - ARGUMENTO

SUPPORTERS: IMAZON

PRESENTED BY: MOORE FOUNDATION & NORAD

COPRODUCTION: IMAZON

About the Author

Anna (Anya) Prusa

Anya Prusa

Senior Associate, Brazil Institute & Slater Family Fellow
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Brazil Institute

The Brazil Institute—the only country-specific policy institution focused on Brazil in Washington—works to foster understanding of Brazil’s complex reality and to support more consequential relations between Brazilian and U.S. institutions in all sectors.  Read more