Sir, – In your recent article 'The Amazon burns for beef' (The Scottish Farmer, December 21) I think that all your readers, and quite rightly so, would be appalled that the lungs of our fragile planet are being burned to the long term danger to our very existence.

For me, your article only looked at a small part of a much bigger scenario taking place in Brazilian agriculture. A number of years ago, I and a group of farmers from Dumfries-shire undertook a study tour of farming in Brazil and whereas a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then, the problem of rainforest destruction continues unabated.

If you look at Brazilian beef production, it is expanding to a degree, but certainly well below world population growth, so it would be pertinent to look at other factors that would account for the expansion of agriculture into the rainforest.

When we visited, the Brazilians made it clear to us that the production of sugar cane was growing at an alarming rate to meet the need for ethanol, thereby pushing beef production out of areas suitable for this crop further north into the rain forest.

The EU has played its part in encouraging this expansion by reducing tariffs on this so-called green energy and reducing to zero, the tariff on refined sugar coming from Brazil. Our hunger for so-called green energy must surely be seen as a key factor in making Brazil the largest exporter of ethanol in the world, with the unforeseen consequence of destroying the rain forest.

Ironically, when reading about a vegan diet, their main source of protein is from soya beans. Again, look at Brazil, where increase in production is outpacing other countries, doubling in the last 10 years alone and in 2019 outpacing the USA who had up until now topped world production.

I cannot accept that beef production alone is responsible for the destruction of the Brazilian rainforest. When you look at the bigger picture, our quest to reduce our carbon footprint is perhaps not as clever as our politicians would have us believe.

Covering Scotland in trees is not the answer to a world problem. A more holistic approach would be to encourage environmentally sensitive food production where it belongs and incentivise others to maintain the rain forests rather than let 'The Amazon burn for beef.'

Incentivise vegans to eat a diet that is balanced and healthy for our planet, rather than for their ill-conceived perceptions that eating meat is destroying the world we live in. This is quite clearly not the case.

Hamish Waugh