Undercover Investigation Implicates Top Brands Nike, Adidas, and Others in “Slaughtering the Amazon” Report

Report Showcases Links Between Leather, Forest Destruction and Climate Change

Media release - May 31, 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 name brands are driving the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. It also shows how the Brazilian government is complicit in bankrolling the destruction and is undermining its own efforts to tackle the global climate crisis.

The new Greenpeace report, "Slaughtering the Amazon" (2), tracks beef, leather, and other cattle products from ranches involved in illegal deforestation in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. The story exposes the laundering of leather and beef into supply chains of top brands such as Adidas, Reebok, Nike, Clarks, Timberland, Geox, Gucci, IKEA, Kraft, and Wal-Mart. (3) The report emphasizes the need to end deforestation for cattle and the importance of having people, industry, and government work toward a global solution that protects tropical forests to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Forest destruction accounts for almost 20 percent of global warming causing emissions, which is more climate pollution than all the world's cars, trucks, trains, planes, and ships combined.

"Brazil is the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gasses in the world in large part because of deforestation-related emissions. The Brazilian cattle industry is the leading cause of deforestation in the Amazon and it is driving climate change," said Greenpeace Forest Campaigner Lindsey Allen. "To be true climate leaders, Nike, Adidas, Timberland and other brands must help protect the Amazon and our climate by refusing to buy leather from deforestation. In the fight against climate change, every step counts."

Greenpeace investigators also found that the Brazilian government has a vested interest in the further expansion of the cattle industry. The country is part owner of three of the country's cattle giants - Bertin, JBS and Marfrig - which are responsible for fueling 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. The Greenpeace investigation shows that expansion of the cattle sector threatens to undermine Brazil's pledge to cut deforestation by 72 percent by the same date. (4) The majority of its climate emissions come 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 Greenpeace Amazon campaigner Andre Muggiati. "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."

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. Given that tropical deforestation accounts for approximately 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, any deal must effectively tackle deforestation.

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VVPR info: Contacts: Daniel Kessler, Greenpeace Press Officer, Greenpeace 510-501-1779 (in San Francisco) Lindsey Allen, Greenpeace Forest Campaigner, 415-710-5601 (in San Francisco) Andre Muggiati, Forest Campaigner, Greenpeace Amazon +55 92 8114 4463 For photos and video contact Daniel Kessler at 510-501-1779.

Notes: 1) The cattle sector in the Amazon accounts for nearly 14 percent of annual deforestation (1.72 million ha/yr Amazon deforestation attributable to cattle and 12.57 million ha/yr of world gross deforestation). For more details refer to ‘Slaughtering the Amazon’ endnote 5 and endnote 85. 2) www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/slaughtering-the-amazon 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 percent 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 percent 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 Brazilian government announced its National Climate Change Plan, including a pledge to pursue 72 percent cuts in the rate of deforestation by 2018. These cuts, which it claims will prevent the emission of 4.8 Gt CO2, are to be achieved largely by tackling illegal deforestation.