The cattle industry is renowned for being the single biggest cause of deforestation globally and a few years ago, Greenpeace confronted the industry’s practices in Brazil. With your help we achieved a huge victory within months of launching the campaign and it seemed the cattle industry was ready to clean up its act.
But Brazilian company JBS, the world’s biggest meat producer, has failed to stick to its promises and has forced us back into the saddle again.
In 2009, your actions put pressure on shoe companies such as Nike, Timberland and Clarks, which in turn put pressure on their suppliers. The result: an agreement by all the main exporters of beef and leather to no longer buy from cattle farms linked to Amazon deforestation.
Since then, we’ve continued to monitor the companies and unfortunately, our analysis over the past 18 months shows that JBS has failed to fulfil any of its commitments.
We also have new evidence showing that it is buying from farms that deforest illegally and occupy Indigenous lands. When we found similar evidence back in 2009 and presented it to JBS to help the company get a grip of the problem, JBS promised to address the issues but has failed to meet its commitment.
Of course, we know that change doesn’t always happen immediately, so we gave the beef and leather giants two years to implement their agreement.
While there has been some progress, two and a half years later the biggest of the three cattle suppliers, JBS, hasn’t even got off the starting blocks.
On top of this, the Brazilian government has done little to address the problem or even implement existing laws to protect the forest and its people. Despite the Brazilian government’s status as the largest shareholder in JBS with a 30 percent stake in the company, JBS continues to violate labour and environmental legislation.
JBS continues to claim it is committed to protecting the Amazon. But instead of tackling the problem, JBS has moved the goal posts, trying to downgrade its legal requirements instead of making sure it adheres to the Cattle Agreement.
As part of our investigations, we managed to trace the supply of beef linked to Amazon destruction to supermarkets and wholesalers in Europe and Brazil such as Tesco and Pão de Açúcar. We also found that Dutch and Belgian importers and wholesalers such as Makro, Sligro Food Group and Van Aerde were buying Brazilian beef from JBS.
We informed these companies about the environmental crimes committed by their supplier JBS, but some have failed to face up to their responsibilities and stop buying beef from JBS.
It doesn’t have to be this way; we’ve already seen companies ready to stand up and say that they don’t want Amazon destruction in their products. Responsible companies such as Clarks, IKEA, Princes, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Sligro have all made the move already – committing to remove Amazon destruction from their supply chains.
JBS needs to stand up and stop driving Amazon destruction. If it doesn’t, more of its customers will find alternative suppliers and we will continue to expose its role in deforestation!
Read more about JBS failures to commit to the Cattle Agreement.
(Photo copyright: © Rodrigo Baléia / Greenpeace)