The environmental organization Greenpeace International, famous for blocking whaling vessels from their prey, has taken a different approach in trying to protect the Amazon rainforest from deforestation for cattle production: it is working with Brazilian beef companies to find cattle that are not produced from clear-cut former rainforest.

On Aug. 13, two of Brazil’s three largest beef companies, Grupo Bertin and Marfrig, agreed to support Greenpeace’s call for a moratorium on purchasing cattle from ranches involved in deforestation. Daniel Kessler, Greenpeace spokesman in San Francisco, Calif., told that the organization hopes to win the agreement of the third beef packer, JBS-Friboli, soon. "We’re in talks and we expect progress," he said. JBS, Marfrig and Grupo Bertin all operate processing plants in Mato Grosso State, an area which Greenpeace says has the highest rate of cattle ranching expansion and deforestation in Brazil.

In addition to the beef companies, Greenpeace also targeted U.S.-based users of leather that comes from Brazil-sourced hides. Kessler said Nike, the athletic shoe company, quickly agreed to support the moratorium.

In a statement, the organization noted the need for government intervention to make a moratorium stick: "Both the federal and state governments (in Brazil) must ensure this is possible by mapping, registering and monitoring rural properties, helping the private sector fulfill its corporate liabilities. Cattle ranching is the biggest driver of Amazon rainforest destruction and contributes to making Brazil the fourth-largest climate polluter."

According to Greenpeace, 20% of the cause for global climate change comes from deforestation worldwide. "The very big picture for our effort is that we want zero deforestation in the hot spots — Indonesia, the Congo basin and the Amazon — by 2015, and we want zero deforestation of rainforests globally by 2020," said Kessler.