Brazil cattle industry giants unite in banning Amazon destruction

Media release - October 5, 2009
In a major step forward for climate protection, today four of the biggest players in the global cattle industry -- Marfrig, Bertin, JBS-Friboi and Minerva – joined forces to ban the purchase of cattle from newly deforested areas of the Brazilian Amazon from their supply chains, backing Greenpeace’s call for zero deforestation in the rainforest. (1)

The move follows the release of the Greenpeace report 'Slaughtering the Amazon' in June, which exposed the link between forest destruction and the expansion of cattle ranching in the Amazon. This prompted calls for action from key international companies, including Adidas, Nike and Timberland, which committed to cancel contracts unless their products were guaranteed to be free from Amazon destruction, encouraging today's move.

The announcement was made at a high-level event in Sao Paulo organized by Greenpeace, where each of the companies declared the adoption of environmental and social standards to ensure their products are free from cattle raised in newly deforested areas of the rainforest.

Measures include the monitoring of their supply chains and clear targets for the registration of farms that both directly and indirectly supply cattle as well as measures to end the purchase of cattle from indigenous and protected areas and from farms using slave labor.(2)

"This is an important step in the fight to stop the destruction of one of the world's most critical rainforests and vital to helping tackle climate change," said Paulo Adario, Greenpeace Amazon campaign director.

The Brazilian cattle sector, which occupies 80 percent of all deforested areas of the Amazon, is the country's leading carbon polluter.

The event was attended by Gov. Blairo Maggi of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, which has the highest rate of deforestation in the Amazon and the largest cattle herd in Brazil. Maggi announced that the state would support efforts to protect the Amazon and would provide high-resolution satellite images for monitoring.

"This announcement shows that the cattle industry and a state government are doing their part. President Lula must now do his homework to improve Brazil's action plan to fight Amazon destruction, ensuring an end to deforestation by 2015, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and averting the impending climate crisis," said Adario.

At the United Nations General Assembly in September, President Lula announced a target of 80 percent reduction in deforestation by 2020 for Brazil.

In just 10 weeks' time, governments around the world will meet in Copenhagen to agree a strong climate deal to avoid catastrophic climate change. Deforestation accounts for around 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than all the world's trains, planes and cars put together. A good climate deal will only be effective if it successfully tackles emissions from both fossil fuels and deforestation. (3)

VVPR info: Daniel Kessler, Greenpeace USA Press Officer, 510.501.1779 Lindsey Allen, Greenpeace Forest Campaigner, 415.710.5601 Paulo Adario, Greenpeace Amazon Campaign director, +55 92 8115 8928

Notes: NOTES TO EDITORS: 1. Bertin is the world’s largest leather exporter and Brazil’s second-largest beef exporter; JBS-Friboi is the world’s largest beef producer and global exporter of processed beef; and Marfrig is the world's fourth largest beef trader. 2. See www.greenpeace.org/forests 3. 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, will be held in December. Tropical deforestation accounts for approximately 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the world’s entire transport sector, so any deal must effectively tackle deforestation.

 Greenpeace is calling for developed countries to provide US$140 billion a year to tackle the climate crisis. Approximately US$40 billion a year of this should be designated to tropical forested countries so 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.