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The Dark Underbelly of Cattle Management in the Amazon: A Deep Dive into Cattle Triangulation, Laundering, and Policy Failures

In the lush, sprawling forests of the Amazon, a clandestine operation is underway. pdf A recent academic paper (767 KB)  reveals that nearly 75% of the cattle reaching slaughterhouses between 2013-2018 originated from just eight specific Protected Areas (PAs). This is a story of deception, environmental degradation, and a complex web of complicity that stretches from local farmers to global corporations.

The Art of Cattle Triangulation

85% of cattle in the Amazon pass through multiple properties before reaching slaughterhouses. This practice, known as cattle triangulation, serves as a smokescreen to hide illegal activities such as deforestation and invasion of indigenous lands. The Term of Conduct Adjustment (TAC) only documents the last farm, leaving a gaping hole in accountability.

The Illusion of Monitoring

Animal Transit Guides (GTAs) are supposed to track cattle movements. However, these documents are issued haphazardly, and their query system is outdated, making real-time tracking impossible. The academic paper emphasizes the urgent need for enhanced monitoring of both direct and indirect suppliers, as current systems are inadequate.

The Policy Paradox: Brazil's Zero-Deforestation Cattle Agreements

Over a decade of efforts to implement zero-deforestation Cattle Agreements in Brazil have yielded little success. Loopholes in compliance and lax enforcement have rendered these agreements ineffective. The absence of real-time tracking and monitoring systems, coupled with fraudulent data in the CAR, have allowed ranchers to evade compliance.

The Corporate Web: JBS's Involvement

JBS, the world's largest meat processor, has been implicated in cattle laundering. The company has been purchasing cattle from protected areas, including those eight specific PAs identified in the academic paper, and environmental reserves. Despite these allegations, JBS continues to operate, revealing the limitations of current regulations.


The Amazon is not just a forest; it's a battleground where the stakes are high, and the players are many. From local farmers to global corporations like JBS, the chain of complicity is long and tangled.

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"Extensive Production Practices and Incomplete Implementation Hinder Brazil's Zero-Deforestation." Tropical Conservation Science, vol. 13, no. 1. Online Access.

"The Role of Cattle Ranching in Deforestation and Climate Change." Conservation Biology. Online Access.

"Sustainable Cattle Ranching in the Amazon: A Case Study." ScienceDirect, Journal of Cleaner Production. Online Access.

"Market-Based Incentives for Sustainable Cattle Ranching." ScienceDirect, Journal of Cleaner Production. Online Access.

"Zero-Deforestation Cattle Agreements: An Analysis of Effectiveness." Annual Reviews in Environment and Resources. Online Access.

"More than 800 Million Amazon Trees Felled in Six Years to Meet Beef Demand." The Guardian. Online Access.

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