Melissa Chan, The Atlantic - Deforesting Brazil for Chinese Pork

Melissa Chan, The Atlantic
Deforesting Brazil for Chinese Pork


“A chicken for every pot.”  As a political slogan put out by backers of presidential candidate Herbert Hoover, it might have helped him get elected on the promise of being a prosperity president in 1928.

But that was before the Great Depression.  When Hoover ran for reelection in 1932, backers of Franklin Roosevelt used it effectively against him as a broken promise.

But here’s the point. The reason it cut so powerfully both ways is that “a chicken in every pot” is memorable, because it is a perfect summation of simple prosperity.

In China, where they know what to do with a chicken and a pot, a more popular translation of the concept might be, “a pork roast on every table.”

Fast growing markets for pork and chicken in Brazil and even more dramatically, in China for those marks of dinnertime prosperity may be killing the planet.

A big-time component of pig and chickenfeed is soy cake, made from soy beans.  Thousands of acres of forest and scrub lands in Central and Western Brazil that once cleared the atmosphere of carbon now clear profits from soybean farming or pig, chicken or cattle ranching.

Many scientists believe the loss of forests in Brazil’s Cerrado and Amazon regions are helping drive climate change and global warming.

Which is not how they see it in Mato Grosso.  In this state along the western edge of Brazil bordering on Bolivia, cattle and soybeans spell progress – m-o-n-e-y.  And clearing the Thick Bush that gives Mato Grosso its name for ranching and farming is only the beginning.



Melissa Chan is a reporter focused on transnational issues, often involving China’s influence beyond its borders. Based in New York City and Berlin, she is a collaborator with the Global Reporting Centre, and previously worked for Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera America.



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