"Slaughtering the Amazon" tracks leather, beef,
and other cattle products produced by ranches involved in illegal
deforestation as they make their way to processing plants,
manufacturers, and ultimately consumers. The report highlights the
need to end deforestation in the Amazon for cattle and the
importance of having people, industry, and governments work
together to implement a global solution that protects tropical
forests to mitigate the effects of climate change.
"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 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 investigation exposes contaminated supply chain with
strong US connection
While the US-based companies behind reputable global brands like
Adidas, Nike, Reebok, and Timberland appear to believe that Amazon
sources are excluded from their products, our investigations expose
for the first time how their blind consumption of raw materials
fuels deforestation and climate change.
Greenpeace's undercover investigation into the Brazilian cattle
industry has exposed the many convoluted steps in the complex
global trade in leather and beef products from
part-Brazilian-government-owned corporations Bertin, JBS and
Marfrig. We have identified hundreds of ranches belonging to these
companies that are within the Amazon rainforest and supplying
cattle to slaughterhouses in the Amazon region. Where we were able
to obtain mapped boundaries for ranches, satellite analysis reveals
that significant supplies of cattle come from ranches active in
recent and illegal deforestation. Trade data also reveal trade with
ranches using modern-day slavery. Additionally, one Bertin
slaughterhouse receives supplies of cattle from an illegal ranch
occupying Indian Lands.
These slaughterhouses in the Amazon region ship their hides and
beef to company facilities thousands of miles away in the south of
Brazil for further processing before export. In a number of cases,
additional processing takes place in import countries before the
final product reaches the market. In effect, criminal or "dirty"
supplies of cattle are being "laundered" through this supply chain
to an unwitting global market.
The demand for leather means more Amazon rainforest cleared to
graze cattle which can end up in brands like Nike, Adidas, and
Timberland. Take action now >> Ask Nike, Adidas,
Timberland, Reebok, Clark's and Geox to refuse to use leather that
is destroying the Amazon.
The Amazon and the climate
Forests are vital to stabilizing the world's climate because
they store such large amounts of carbon. There is about
one-and-a-half times as much carbon stored in the Earth's forests
as there is in its atmosphere. It is estimated that the Amazon
alone stores somewhere from 80 to 120 billion tons of carbon. If
the Amazon were destroyed, it would release some 50 times the
annual greenhouse gas emissions of the United States.
If we're going to prevent catastrophic climate change, we need
to save the world's rainforests. Tropical deforestation is
responsible for up to 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions
worldwide, more than all the cars, trains, planes, trucks, and
ships in the world combined. This is why Greenpeace is calling for
Zero Deforestation in the Amazon as well as global solutions to
deforestation and climate change.
The Brazilian government is financing cattle industry
expansion, which means more deforestation in the Amazon and more
emissions contributing to climate change.
The Brazilian Amazon has the highest annual deforestation rate
to be found anywhere in the world, and the cattle industry is the
largest single driver of that deforestation, accounting for as much
as 80% according to the Brazilian government. In fact, some 14% of
all deforestation that occurs globally is due to deforestation of
the Amazon for cattle, making Brazil's cattle industry the single
largest driver of deforestation in the world.
Based on data from recent years, we are losing at least one acre
of Amazon rainforest to cattle ranchers every 8 seconds. Efforts to
curb emissions from global deforestation, therefore, must tackle
Brazil's cattle industry.
But the Brazilian government is bankrolling a massive expansion
of the cattle industry in an attempt to dominate the global market
for agricultural commodities, including cattle products. Brazil
already maintains the largest commercial cattle herd in the world,
and is the leading exporter of beef as well as the largest exporter
of tanned leather (a title it shares with China). The total value
of Brazil's cattle trade in 2008 was nearly $7 billion, more than a
quarter of which came from leather. One in every three tons of beef
traded internationally comes from Brazil, and the country's
government forecasts that by 2018 almost two out of every three
tons of beef will come from Brazil.
"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."
Between 2007 and 2009, a few global corporations - Bertin, JBS,
and Marfrig - received $2.65 billion from the Brazilian government,
and in exchange the Brazilian government received shares in the
companies. These three companies are the world's largest leather
traders, the world's largest beef trader (controlling at least 10%
of global beef production), and the world's fourth-largest beef
trader, respectively. Expansion by these groups is effectively a
joint venture with the Brazilian government.
What kind of a leader is Brazil?
Brazil presents itself as a global leader on action to cut
deforestation. At the 2008 international climate summit in Poznàn,
Poland, the Brazilian government announced its National Climate
Change Plan, which included a pledge to cut 72% of deforestation by
2018. These cuts are to be achieved largely by tackling illegal
However, the Brazilian government is a funder and shareholder in
the major players in the cattle sector in the Amazon - the single
largest driver of global deforestation. The Brazilian government
has $2.65 billion in shares in global leather and beef processors
who profit from the cheap supply of cattle reared on areas of the
Amazon that have been illegally destroyed. Projected growth in
exports over the next decade is set to create further pressure on
But Brazil is not alone in driving Amazon deforestation. Nor can
it take sole responsibility for fixing the problem.
Given the global trade in agricultural commodities driving
deforestation, considerable responsibility for action lies with the
multinational corporations behind reputable global brands whose
blind consumption of raw materials in their supply chains fuels
deforestation. Take action now and tell these companies that
every step counts in stopping deforestation and climate change.
Tell top shoe brands to protect the Amazon and the climate