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Latin America to defend beef production at UN food summit

by Reuters
Monday, 19 July 2021 21:25 GMT

Cattle is herded to safety as forest fires burn vast swaths of the Chaco region, near Cadete Pando, Paraguay October 1, 2020. Picture taken October 1, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Adorno

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Concern is rising over the environmental impact of meat - but Paraguayan minister says beef-producing countries do not bear "much" responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions

By Daniela Desantis

ASUNCIÓN, July 19 (Reuters) - Latin American and Caribbean countries, especially big food producers in South America, will join forces to defend the region's livestock production at a United Nations' food summit this month amid concerns over the sector's environmental impact.

Paraguay's farming and livestock minister, Santiago Bertoni, said in a video-conference that the main focus was to counter criticism of animal farming, especially cattle farming for beef, in policies such as the European "Green Deal."

"We have some concerns because we do not see the region adequately reflected in the discussion groups," said Bertoni, who chairs the Southern Agricultural Council, which also includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay.

"We do not want biased decisions to be made."

The United Nations pre-summit will take place in Rome from July 26 and will lay the foundations for a summit in September within the framework of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

Brazil is the world's largest beef exporter ahead of the United States and Australia, and an important supplier to buyers such as China. Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay are also among the world's 10 largest beef exporters.

Outcomes from the meeting are not binding, but South American producing countries fear it will generate a narrative against the consumption of beef that could be transferred to other forums with greater decision-making power.

Bertoni said that the region's beef producing countries do not bear "much" responsibility for the emission of greenhouse gases, though officials acknowledge that they lack all the necessary tools to measure these effects.

Ariel Martínez, an official at Argentina's Ministry of Agriculture, said in the video-conference that Latin American countries were working to build a "coalition" that transcends the region with nations such as New Zealand and Australia.

(Reporting by Daniela Desantis in Asuncion; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Sandra Maler)

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