On a sunny day in July 2019, Alessandro Ale, a lorry driver, decided to take a few photos as he drove in a convoy across the southern end of the Amazon rainforest. He snapped the cab of his lorry – emblazoned with the logo of JBS, the world’s largest meat company – beside a sign marked “Fazenda Estrela do Aripuanã”, before he and the four other drivers set off with their load of about 250 cattle. He enjoyed the journey. “Working with good fellas is always a joyful ride,” he captioned the picture on Facebook.
But Ale’s photo, later uncovered by Repórter Brasil and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, increases concerns about the culpability of the global beef industry for the fires ravaging the Amazon each year. This June saw record fires in the Amazon, fanned by illegal deforestation as farm owners seek more land to turn into cattle pasture.