Undercover investigation implicates top brands in ‘Slaughtering the Amazon’

Brazilian Government Bankrolling Amazon Destruction

Press release - 1 June, 2009
A three-year undercover investigation by Greenpeace into Brazil’s booming cattle industry, the single largest source of deforestation in the world and Brazil’s main source of CO2 emissions (1), has found that top food, sports and fashion brands are unwittingly driving the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. It also shows how the Brazilian government is complicit in bankrolling the destruction and is undermining efforts to tackle the global climate crisis.

Slaughtering the Amazon
Executive Summary
Greenpeace International, June 2009

The new Greenpeace report Slaughtering the Amazon (2) tracks beef, leather and other cattle products from ranches involved in illegal deforestation at the heart of the Amazon rainforest, as well as the invasion of indigenous lands and slavery, back to the supply chains of top brands such as Adidas/Reebok, Timberland, Geox, Carrefour, Honda, Gucci, IKEA, Kraft, Clarks, Nike, Tesco and Wal-Mart.(3)

“Top brand running shoes, ready meals and designer handbags may have an environmental footprint that includes the trashing of the Amazon and could also be linked to human rights abuses,” said Pat Venditti, Forest Campaign Coordinator, Greenpeace International.“Companies worldwide must ensure that their supply chains are not caught up in this destructive industry. They must support climate protection by pulling out of deforestation” 

Greenpeace investigators also found that the Brazilian government has a vested interest in the further expansion of the cattle industry; it part-owns three of the country’s cattle giants - Bertin, JBS and Marfrig - which are responsible for fuelling the destruction of huge tracts of the Amazon.

President Lula’s government forecasts that the country’s share of the global beef market will double by 2018. As Greenpeace investigation exposes, expansion of the cattle sector threatens to undermine the government’s pledge to cut deforestation by 72% by the same date. (4) Brazil is the fourth largest climate polluter in the world, with the majority of its climate emissions coming from the clearance and burning of the Amazon rainforest.

By bankrolling the destruction of the Amazon for cattle, President Lula’s government is undermining its own climate commitments as well as the global effort to tackle the climate crisis,” said Andre Muggiati, Greenpeace Brazil, Amazon campaigner. “If it wants to be part of the climate solution, Lula’s government must get out of bed with cattle industry, and instead commit to ending Amazon deforestation. Otherwise it will be culpable in the global climate catastrophe that will ensue,” he added.

In December 2009, political negotiations to save the climate will culminate at the UN Copenhagen Climate Summit, where governments must agree to a strong global deal to avert catastrophic climate change. Tropical deforestation accounts for approximately 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the world’s entire transport sector, so any deal must effectively tackle deforestation.

Greenpeace is calling for governments to provide USD 140 billion a year to tackle the climate crisis. Approximately USD 40 billion a year of this should be designated to forested countries so that they can ensure the forests are properly protected. The funds would be provided in return for a commitment to stop deforestation by 2015 in the Amazon and by 2020 globally.

VVPR info: Jo Kuper, Greenpeace International communications +31 646 162039 (in Amsterdam)
Andre Muggiati, Forest Campaigner, Greenpeace Amazon +55 92 8114 4463(in Brazil)Caroline Donatti, Greenpeace communications +55 92 8114 4497 (in Manaus)
For photos contact John Novis +44 7801 615 889
For video footage contact Maarten Van Rouveroy +31 646 197322

Notes: 1) The cattle sector in the Amazon accounts for nearly 14% of annualdeforestation (1.72 million ha/yr Amazon deforestation attributable tocattle and 12.57 million ha/yr of world gross deforestation). For moredetails refer to ‘Slaughtering the Amazon’ endnote 5 and endnote 85.

2) www.greenpeace.org/amazoncattlewww.greenpeace.org/amazoncattlesummary

3) Products in the investigation include:SHOES: In China, the world’s largest producer and exporter of shoes - tanneries supplied by Bertin supply manufacturers which produce trainers for Nike and Adidas/Reebok. Bertin also supplies leather to the two leading Italian processors (Rino Mastrotto Group & Gruppo Mastrotto) whose customers include Boss, Geox, Gucci, Hilfiger, Louis Vuitton and Prada.CARS: Bertin is an exclusive supplier to US-based Eagle Ottawa, which accounts for 20% of the global leather market for vehicle upholstery. Eagle Ottawa customers include BMW, Ford, Honda,Toyota as well as most other top brands. CATERING & HOME FOODS: JBS has a 50% stake in the beef divisions of Italian Gruppo Cremonini, which is exclusive supplier to the Italian Railway, including Eurostar Group. Cremonini also supplies the French railway companies SNCF and Thalys International. 40% of the UK’s processed beef (prepared, cooked or tinned) comes from Brazil. Nearly 90% of this comes from Bertin, JBS or Marfrig. In Brazil, Bertin, JBS or Marfrig also supply Carrefour, Wal-Mart and Grupo Pão de Açúcar (affiliated to French-owned Casino), the supermarket giants that control nearly 40% of the sector.BEAUTY & HYGIENE: Bertin supplies Unilever, Colgate Palmolive and Johnson & Johnson.

4) At the 2008 international climate summit in Poznàn, the Braziliangovernment announced its National Climate Change Plan, including apledge to pursue 72% cuts in the rate of deforestation by 2018. Thesecuts, which it claims will prevent the emission of 4.8 Gt CO2, are tobe achieved largely by tackling illegal deforestation.