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Story Publication logo March 10, 2020

China, Brazil, and the Pursuit for Pork

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Image by Heriberto Araújo. Brazil, 2019.
English

China's demand for meat—for food security—drives deforestation in Brazil. As the world's largest...

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A worker at Grupo Vale do Verde looks on as grain is moved at one of its many facilities in the state of Mato Grosso. Big Ag in Brazil wants to see better transport options, including the construction of a railway, the Ferrogrão — “the grain train” — that would cut across the jungle. Image by Melissa Chan. Brazil, 2019.
A worker at Grupo Vale do Verde looks on as grain is moved at one of its many facilities in the state of Mato Grosso. Big Ag in Brazil wants to see better transport options, including the construction of a railway, the Ferrogrão — “the grain train” — that would cut across the jungle. Image by Melissa Chan. Brazil, 2019.

What happens when more than a billion people who love to eat pork get richer and want to eat more meat? That’s the challenge for China’s leaders, who maintain a strategic pork reserve in the same way the United States operates a Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

In more recent years, Beijing has increasingly turned to Brazil for its supply of soy, which it uses to feed its giant swine population. There’s now talk of building a train line in the Brazilian Amazon to ship the grain more quickly to global markets.

Melissa Chan speaks with Dave Marash, host of Here & There, about her journey along the route of the proposed railway that would transform the region.