Brazilian leather industry giant commits to end Amazon destruction

Press release - 13 August, 2009
In a significant move in the fight against climate change, the world’s largest leather exporter and Brazil’s second-largest beef exporter, Bertin, today backed Greenpeace’s call for a moratorium on buying cattle from farms involved in Amazon deforestation with immediate effect (1).

Bertin's announcement follows the release of Greenpeace's report, ' Slaughtering the Amazon' (2), which traced leather, beef and other cattle products from ranches involved in the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest back to top brands' supply chains.

 "Given the sheer size of Bertin's operations, this commitment will have a significant impact on driving down Amazon deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. Greenpeace will closely monitor the moratorium's implementation to ensure its success," said Paulo Adario, Greenpeace Amazon coordinator.

Over the next six months, Bertin will register and map all farms which directly supply cattle to the company. For the rest of the supply chain, including rearing and nursery farms, it will implement a traceability system from farms to its slaughterhouses and processing facilities by 2011. The company will also ensure that it does not buy cattle from indigenous and protected areas or from farms linked to slave labour, land conflicts and land grabbing.

"Environmental responsibility is increasingly relevant for a company like ours to maintain and enhance its position in Brazil and abroad," said Fernando Bertin, CEO of Bertin, S.A. "Today, we are making a fundamental step," he said.

Bertin's commitment to end Amazon deforestation comes soon after a similar announcement from Marfrig, one of the world's largest beef traders. It leaves Brazilian JBS-Friboi, the world's largest producer and global exporter of processed beef isolated. Contrary to its competitors, JBS-Friboi is staying silent on the issue and is actually expanding into the Amazon, having rented several new facilities north of Mato Grosso State, an area which has the greatest rate of cattle ranching expansion and deforestation in the Amazon.

"JBS-Friboi must accept its responsibilities and stop fuelling Amazon destruction. It needs to join these companies in protecting the rainforest now," said Adario.

Brazil's cattle sector urgently needs to follow the soya industry's example and commit to a moratorium. Both the federal and state governments must ensure a moratorium is possible by mapping, registering and monitoring rural properties, helping the private sector to fulfil its corporate responsibilities. Cattle ranching is the biggest driver of Amazon rainforest destruction and contributes to making Brazil the fourth largest climate polluter in the world.

 "With just 115 days to the Copenhagen Climate Summit it is vital that President Lula supports the industry initiatives and demonstrates that Brazil has measures in place to end Amazon destruction. In return, developed countries not only need to commit to deep cuts in their own emissions, but must also create a fund of at least US$40 billion a year to support tropical countries' efforts to halt the destruction precious rainforests in order to avert catastrophic climate change," said Judy Rodrigues, Greenpeace International Forest Campaigner (3).

Other contacts: Paulo Adario, Greenpeace Brazil, Amazon Campaign Co-ordinator, +55 92 8115 8928

Caroline Donatti, Greenpeace Brazil Communications+55 92 4009 8005 or +55 92 8114 4497

Judy Rodrigues, Greenpeace International, Forest Campaigner, +31 646 166 299

Beth Herzfeld, Greenpeace International press officer, +44 7717 802 891