Scandal: How Cargill sank the COP27 deal to end soy-driven deforestation

Scandal: How Cargill sank the COP27 deal to end soy-driven deforestation

Scandal: How Cargill sank the COP27 deal to end soy-driven deforestation

Explosive new report from Mighty Earth reveals for the first time how Cargill sabotaged the world’s biggest breakthrough on forests  

 Update on Cargill action. Letter to CEO Brian Sikes.

 Link to the report  Media coverage


An explosive new report by Mighty Earth reveals for the first time how the US agribusiness giant Cargill sank a year-long drive by industry and governments for a global deal at COP27 to end all deforestation and ecosystem destruction linked to soy production.  

The revelation comes as deforestation recently surged to record levels in the threatened Cerrado savannah in Brazil, largely driven by the expansion of soy grown for animal feed.  

A four-month investigation by Mighty Earth, involving multiple interviews with some of the key participants closest to the negotiations, found that while Cargill publicly claimed to be committed to ending deforestation in its soy supply chains, behind-the-scenes, Cargill lobbied and manoeuvred to block an ambitious Agriculture Sector Roadmap to 1.5°C announced at COP27 to immediately ban and end all soy-driven deforestation and ecosystem destruction. 

Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz said:  

“Mighty Earth found that fourteen of the world's biggest agribusinesses were set to agree a global deal ending deforestation and nature destruction linked to soy in the run up to COP27 in Egypt, but they were blocked by stubborn opposition from Cargill, which threw its considerable weight around, and ensured that the deal collapsed. You simply wouldn’t see the forests and biomes of South America bulldozed at the same alarming scale and pace if Cargill hadn’t sabotaged the world’s biggest breakthrough on forests.” 

Report key findings: 

  • Senior officials say Cargill blocked a global deal to end deforestation and ecosystem destruction for soy in year-long talks in the run up to COP27, and heaped pressure on other companies that had promised to end ecosystem destruction by 2025 to backtrack. 
  • An official associated with Cargill claimed that although soy-related conversation in Brazil was the number one issue for Cargill internally, the company put money, trading revenues and executive bonuses first in its efforts to sink an ambitious deforestation deal on soy at COP27.  
  • Documents released under EU Access to Data laws show Cargill’s key soy trade associations privately lobbied senior European Commission climate change officials and brazenly denied that soy expansion was a driver of deforestation in Brazil. 

Crucial talks ahead of COP27 

As the world came together for the COP27 UN Climate Change Conference Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt last November, hopes were high that fourteen of the world’s largest commodity traders and agribusinesses would announce an end to all soy-driven deforestation and agree on an immediate ban and a zero-deforestation cut-off date of 2020. This would have prohibited the sale of all soy products linked to both legal and illegal deforestation and conversion after 2020.  

The deal was crucial given the scale of soy-driven deforestation, particularly in the vast and threatened Cerrado savannah in Brazil, which has lost half of its surface area largely due to soy expansion to feed livestock in intensive farming systems. 

The push for a deal had momentum. Major agribusinesses Amaggi and Louis Dreyfus Company were committed to the initiative and the US and UK Governments were shouldering an effort to secure a Paris Agreement-aligned Agriculture Sector Roadmap to 1.5 °C, in time for the COP27 conference wrap. But while decent progress and deforestation commitments were made by the cattle and palm oil sectors, the final Soy Implementation Plan in the Roadmap fell woefully short, failing to agree a target date to immediately ban and end soy-driven deforestation and ecosystem destruction.  

Lord Goldsmith, the former UK Minister for International Environment and Climate, who was closely involved in the Roadmap negotiations said to Mighty Earth:  

“There are plenty of companies and countries that have managed to break the link between environmental degradation and agricultural commodities, which are the biggest cause. So, it would be unforgivable for a giant company like Cargill to claim publicly to be transforming its supply chain, while at the same time resisting efforts to agree an end to soy-related habitat conversion in the run up to COP27.” 

Cargill: Still ‘The Worst Company in the World’ 

In an earlier report Mighty Earth called Cargill “The Worst Company in the World” for its appalling track record on deforestation, environmental and human rights issues. In April 2023, a follow-up Mighty Earth investigation found Cargill bought soy from farms linked to hundreds of hectares of illegal Amazon deforestation. With the world experiencing its hottest year and to stand any chance of limiting global heating to within 1.5°C, it’s urgently time for Cargill to accept that business-as-usual is no longer a viable option and to commit to end all soy-driven deforestation immediately. 

Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz added:  

“A single company shouldn’t be in the position of deciding the fate of the world’s tropical forests and key ecosystems and biomes. Cargill must put profits and bonuses aside and grasp the urgency of the global climate emergency and work constructively with governments, peers and civil society to return with an updated global plan to ban all soy-related deforestation and nature destruction at the forthcoming COP28 climate summit in Dubai in late November.”  

Saving the Cerrado: Why Supermarkets, Bunge and Governments Must Act Fast

Saving the Cerrado: Why Bunge, supermarkets and governments must act fast

New Mighty Earth report prompts leading supermarkets to investigate 


Click on your language to read the report, the press release and watch the video

New Blog on Bunge






The Cerrado savannah, Brazil’s “forgotten jewel,” is less well known than its neighbor the Amazon, but it is just as important in helping us stabilize our climate and protect nature. We need the Cerrado as much as we need the Amazon.  

The Cerrado is in peril, disappearing at an alarming rate, becoming a deforestation hotspot. Half of its land surface has been lost, taken by the meat industry to rear cattle and grow soy for animal feed. Scientists warn it is vulnerable to ecosystem collapse, and risks becoming a barren wasteland, unable to support the people and wildlife who live there.






The Cerrado is the world’s largest and most diverse savannah, home to 5% of the world’s plant and animal species, including many that are endangered: the jaguar; the giant anteater and the maned wolf. It is home to many Indigenous and local communities.

Known as an ‘upside-down forest’, it stores around 13.7 billion tons of carbon in its soils and immense root system, equivalent to that of a tropical forest. It is also a major water source, but soy expansion to feed livestock in intensive farming systems, means it is becoming drier and hotter.  

Deforestation in the Cerrado hit a record high of 353,200 hectares between January and May 2023, and recent figures from the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) show deforestation rates
rising steeply there incomparison to the Amazon, where rates are declining.



What’s the issue with soy? 

Brazil is the world’s biggest producer of soy. It is estimated that over 20 million hectares of Brazil’s forest cover have been lost to soy growing in the last three decades. The Cerrado is at the epicentre of soy production and expansion. Across the world, the meat industry uses soy as a high protein feed for livestock, primarily to produce immense volumes of cheap meat as quickly as possible, stacked high on the shelves of global supermarkets.  

Why Bunge?  

US-based Bunge is one of the big international corporations that trades in soy for animal feed. It has ambitions to be the biggest, having just announced a merger with Dutch company Viterra, to form a $34BN agricultural giant. 

With annual revenues of $67 billion, Bunge is the main supplier of soy animal feed to the meat industry in the European Union and is the trader with the greatest deforestation risk linked to soy in the Cerrado, after the two next worst commodities giants, ADM, and Cargill.  

Bunge ships vast amounts of soy to Europe to feed animals in intensive farming systems, destined for the meat aisles of major supermarkets in France, Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands – for beef, poultry, pork, and dairy products. Markets in Europe are causing more deforestation in the Cerrado than anywhere else in the world. 

What we found 

Bunge recently bought soy from three farms responsible for the equivalent of 15,897 soccer pitches of deforestation in the Cerrado (11,351 ha), cleared after 2021. Our partner AidEnvironment also detected another five cases linked to an additional 14,598 hectares of deforestation that took place on soy farms in the Cerrado in early 2023, in high-risk areas where Bunge is the leading soy exporter. 

Bunge confirmed to Mighty Earth that it has recently sourced soy directly from four of the eight farms named in our investigation – although it said the deforestation was legal under Brazilian law and failed to provide any further details. 

Bunge told us that it does not have a deforestation cut-off date of 2020, and so will accept legally deforested, deforestation-risk, or deforestation-linked soy in its supply chain until 2025. 

What has been the impact of our investigation?  

We contacted 100 companies to ask if they had links to soy from Bunge in their meat supply chains. Five confirmed that they did, and several major supermarkets have acted, launching investigations. These include Carrefour and Casino in France, Ahold Delhaize and Jumbo in the Netherlands and Aldi South in Germany. 

We need Bunge, supermarkets, and governments to do more and to do it fast to save the Cerrado, before it is too late.  



Graphics : Rémi Cans,

Civil society calls for JBS to be stripped of A minus climate rating

Ler em Português

Civil society calls for JBS to be stripped of A minus climate rating 

 Environmental disclosure group CDP raised Brazilian meat giant’s climate score despite JBS’s huge climate emissions and dire deforestation record   

Letter to CDP_JBS Score complaint_16 March 2023

A global coalition of twenty civil society groups is calling for CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) to revoke the recent A minus score and “Leadership” status awarded to meat giant JBS for its efforts on addressing climate change, amid widespread concerns over rampant greenwashing. Led by Mighty Earth, some of the biggest CSOs, including the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy (IATP), Friends of the Earth, Compassion in World Farming, Soil Association and Rainforest Foundation Norway, have joined forces to call out the high grading.  


CDP is a global disclosure system used by investors, companies, cities, and regions to measure and act on their climate and environmental impacts. The system is widely regarded as one of the gold standards of environmental reporting, but its approach depends on self-declared responses, raising concerns from CSOs about the accuracy of scores being awarded to companies.  

According to CDP, organisations earning a score in the top “Leadership” level “must show environmental leadership, disclosing action on climate change, deforestation or water security” and companies awarded an A minus are “implementing current best practices.” In the case of JBS, this could not be further from the truth. Analysis shows JBS is the single largest corporate greenhouse gas emitter in the animal agriculture sector and the biggest corporate driver of deforestation in Brazil.  


Greenwashing claims 

JBS has been accused of greenwashing in a whistle-blower complaint to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed by Mighty Earth. Evidence highlights that $3.2 billion worth of “green bonds” issued by JBS were misleading to investors and allegedly fraudulent. The meat giant has pledged to be net zero by 2040 but independent researchers found it lacks any meaningful decarbonisation plan. Meanwhile, JBS continues to promote its improved climate change rating from CDP, and regularly cites its CDP score with investors. Notably, JBS did not make its 2022 Climate Change response to CDP public. 

Alex Wijeratna, Senior Director at Mighty Earth said: 

“This is a serious case of greenwashing by JBS, who are promoting their new A minus climate score to attract investors. It’s highly misleading for JBS, a notorious Amazon forest destroyer, and one of the world’s largest climate polluters, to receive CDP’s top climate ‘Leadership’ rating.”  

“We’re also seriously concerned that JBS may have misreported in its CDP 2022 Forests disclosure, claiming zero hectares of known or estimated deforestation in its cattle supply chain since 2008. This despite a litany of reports and confirmed cases of deforestation linked to JBS beef supplies since then. We’re urging CDP to withdraw JBS’ A minus Climate Change score immediately and to more broadly reassess its climate scoring methodology.” 

Shefali Sharma, Director of the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy’s European office said: 

“JBS has the largest climate footprint compared to all other livestock companies with a goal to achieve net zero ten years earlier than others. Yet it consistently refuses to publish its full scope of emissions, let alone the number of animals in its supply chain. There’s a fundamental flaw in the current voluntary system of corporate climate governance in that CDP derives over 30% of its revenue from the companies it appraises. We need robust rules for corporate emissions reporting and verification that result in independent appraisal and the elimination of conflicts of interest.” 

Nusa Urbancic, Campaigns Director at Changing Markets said: 

“JBS getting a high climate score points to the glaring methodology gap of third-party scoring organisations, like CDP. Our research indicates that JBS alone is responsible for methane emissions comparable to combined livestock methane emissions of France, Germany, Canada, and New Zealand, yet lacks any plan to address or even adequately report these potent emissions. We desperately need governments to step in, set climate targets and harmonised rules for reporting for big meat industry giants that are heating up our planet.” 

CDP’s contribution to environmental transparency is widely recognised worldwide. However, it is evident that rather than relying on voluntary self-reporting alone, CDP’s scoring methodology needs to consider the public evidence available to ensure accurate scores are awarded. Updates to CDP’s scoring approach should include:  

  • Independent evaluation of companies’ performance on measuring and reducing emissions, not just paper commitments and self-reporting. 
  • All companies to undergo risk evaluations and any adjustments to scores be openly communicated. 
  • All submissions to be made publicly available to enable independent third-party verification and to avoid underreporting or greenwashing.  
  • A scoring methodology with specific criteria that prioritise performance and must be met for companies to achieve a score within each of CDP’s scoring levels.  
  • Food and Agricultural sectors report total animal slaughter numbers and milk intake to support an accurate Scope 3 emissions figure.  


Notes to Editors 

Links to analysis of JBS’ performance and practices: 


  • Recent analysis from the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy (IATP) and Changing Markets Foundation estimates JBS’s total emissions to be 288 MtCO2e, exceeding the entire emissions of Spain in 2021. 
  • JBS ranked top position in a list of 15 of the world’s largest meat and dairy companies for its methane emissions. 
  • JBS currently fails to report its complete ‘Scope 3’ emissions: producing meat throughout its entire supply chain, where most of its climate impact lies.  
  • Mighty Earth say JBS has failed to disclose the number of cattle and other animals it slaughters annually since 2017, which is crucial for evaluating its emissions claims. 


  • JBS ranks the worst performing company in Mighty Earth’s Soy & Cattle Deforestation Tracker, achieving only one point out of a possible 100.  
  • Chain Reaction Research estimated that JBS’s deforestation footprint in Brazil is up to 200,000 hectares in its direct supply chain, and 1.5 million hectares in its indirect supply chain since 2008. 
  • Global Witness, Greenpeace, and EIA (Environmental Investigation Agency) highlighted JBS’s continued links to illegal deforestation, operating illegally on protected Indigenous land, and/or making purchases linked to human rights abuses. 
  • Despite the numerous links to deforestation, some of which JBS recently admitted to, JBS reported that”0 hectares of known or estimated deforestation/conversion” have occurred for cattle products since 2008 in its 2022 CDP Forests disclosure, for which it scored a B. 
  • JBS does not plan to eliminate deforestation across its global supply chain until 2035 – giving suppliers 13 more years to bulldoze.  

Emissions targets and alleged greenwashing 

  • In 2021, JBS committed to becoming “Net Zero” across its entire value chain by 2040, but the true scope of the pledge is unclear, given the company grossly underreports its Scope 3 emissions. 
  • JBS’s 2030 emission reduction target for Scope 1 and 2 is highly ambiguous and misleading, as it is unclear if the company aims for absolute or emissions intensity reductions. 
  • JBS were asked to remove the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) logo it previously cited on the Achievements and Certifications page of its website, despite SBTi not having validated its targets. JBS’s lack of measurement and reporting on Scope 3 emissions contradicts the criteria set by the SBTi, which requires companies to set Scope 3 targets if these emissions make up over 40% of the company’s overall GHG footprint. 
  • A complaint to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed by Mighty Earth accuses JBS of misleading investors and calls for a full investigation into $3.2 billion worth of “green bonds” issued by the company. The evidence highlights that JBS’s “Sustainability-Linked bonds” were misleading to investors and allegedly fraudulent. 

No meaningful decarbonisation plans 

  • An evaluation of companies’ climate pledges by the New Climate Institute and Carbon Market Watch ranked JBS “Very low” in both its “Integrity” & “Transparency” categories, for the second year running. The assessment of JBS's overall net zero efforts concludes: "The company plans to continue growth in a GHG emission-intensive industry; we did not find evidence of any planned deep decarbonisation measures. JBS does not have an emission reduction target alongside its net-zero emission target for 2040. Its interim targets for 2030 would lead to a 3% emission reduction compared to its reported 2021 emissions."  
  • Instead of JBS’s emissions footprint shrinking as it heads toward “Net Zero,” recent estimates by IATP and Changing Markets continue to show it has grown by a minimum of 17% between 2016 and 2021. 
  • JBS does not have any methane action plan that would align with the Global Methane Pledge, nor does it report its methane emissions, as recommended in the UN report on Net Zero Commitments. 


For more information or to arrange an interview please contact: 

Carole Mitchell, Senior Director of Communications (based UK) 

[email protected] 

+44 7917 105000 

Syd Jones, Press Secretary (based US EST)   

[email protected] 

+1 561 809 5522 

Cecelia Brackey, Media, and Communications Manager at IATP (based US, CST) 

[email protected] 

+ 1 651-328-4706 

Nusa Urbancic, Campaigns Director at Changing Markets (based UK) 

[email protected] 


About Mighty Earth 

Mighty Earth is a global advocacy organization working to defend a living planet.  Our goal is to protect half of Earth for Nature and secure a climate that allows life to flourish.  We are obsessed with impact and aspire to be the most effective environmental advocacy organization in the world. Our team has achieved transformative change by persuading leading industries to dramatically reduce deforestation and climate pollution throughout their global supply chains in palm oil, rubber, cocoa, and animal feed, while improving livelihoods for Indigenous and local communities across the tropics. 

European supermarkets turn their back on beef linked to Amazon deforestation

EU supermarkets turn their back on beef linked to Amazon deforestation 

In response to surging deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon and a new investigation documenting their ties to deforestation, major supermarket chains in the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands have announced they were dropping Brazilian beef altogether and/or beef products tied to JBS, the world’s largest beef company. 

The move comes following a new investigation by Repórter Brasil in partnership with Mighty Earth that tracked deforestation-linked beef in the Brazilian Amazon and the Pantanal tropical wetlands to European retail store shelves, in the form of beef jerky, corned beef and fresh prime cuts. Mighty Earth alerted the retailers and companies to the deforestation links in advance of publication, resulting in this raft of new announcements. 

UK: See the investigation of Sainbury's and corned beef  

Belgium: See the investigation of Carrefour Belgium and Jack Link’s Beef Jerky 

The Netherlands: See the investigation of Lidl Netherlands and ribeye beef steaks 

The Netherlands: See the investigation of Ahold companies and beef products in Belgium, the Netherlands and US 

Read our letter to the European Commission: EU anti-deforestation regulation would largely fail to address deforestation in Brazil

Download the full letter.

Mighty Earth, together with our friends and partners at Canopeé, Reporter Brasil, Earthsight, Rainforest Foundation Norway, the Environmental Investigation Agency, and Fern have written to the European Commission demanding changes to the proposed anti-deforestation supply chain regulation. It currently has big loopholes that would allow deforested cattle and beef products to still enter the European market.

Leaked drafts of the Commission’s regulatory proposal indicate that the EU law will fail to address cattle-driven deforestation by leaving out leather and processed beef - the strongest links between European consumption and deforestation in Brazil. Europe imports as much processed beef as fresh beef. In addition, savannahs like the Brazilian Cerrado are also out of the scope of the regulation, even if all the most deforestation associated with the soy imported into the EU comes from those ecosystems. Soy to feed chickens, pigs and cows has caused more deforestation than any other commodity imported into the EU between 2005 and 2017, even more than palm oil. Around 70% of this destruction was concentrated in one critical biome, Brazil’s Cerrado.

"Nico Muzi, Europe Director of Mighty Earth, said: "It's nonsense for the EU anti-deforestation law to allow Brazil, the country that experienced the highest deforestation rate in the world in 2020, to keep exporting beef and soy resulting from deforestation. If Vice President Timmermans is serious about protecting Europeans from fuelling forest destruction, he should make sure the upcoming EU law covers processed beef, leather and natural ecosystems like savannahs and wetlands."

Tesco's meat problem

Tesco's meat problem

Britain’s largest supermarket chain, Tesco sells a lot of meat – hundreds of millions of chickens a year alone. Three weeks ago, Tesco produced a new set of requirements for its meat suppliers to try and address the massive environmental consequences of those meat sales, starting with the soy-based animal feed used to fatten chicken, pigs and cows for its own-brand meat and dairy offer.

The long overdue update has been produced following campaign efforts from Mighty Earth and Greenpeace UK – with consumers calling on the company to drop the worst forest destroyers in its supply chain.

Meat has outsized environmental consequences. Raising meat produces more climate pollution, fouls more drinking water, and requires more land for livestock and feed globally than all other food crops combined - for a fraction of the nutritional value.

But the single most acute environmental consequence is the bulldozing and burning of millions of acres of rainforest and other ecosystems to make way for industrial animal feed plantations and cattle ranches.

There has been more land in the Amazon and Cerrado Biomes of Brazil bulldozed for soy plantations than the entire land mass of Israel or Slovenia in just 11 years.

Unless companies like Tesco take strict action, it could get worse very quickly: proposed legislation in front of the Brazilian legislature, which if passed, puts at least 19.6 million hectares of public land in the Amazon at risk from large agribusiness companies trying to grab land to make more industrial feed and meat.

Within this context, the new requirements for Tesco meat suppliers sourcing from South America to have a strict no-deforestation, no-conversion and no-human rights abuse policy – based on a ‘cut-off date’, a biome-wide agreement and improved transparency in sourcing represents an improvement over the status quo.

However, unless the details are strengthened, Tesco shoppers will still be eating chicken and pork connected to the destruction of the rainforest and tropical savannah in Brazil for some time.

Supplier impunity on deforestation 

Tesco’s policy, in essence, allows agribusinesses that supply animal feed to continue driving deforestation with impunity while supplying the company. In particular:

  • Tesco fails to spell out how or when it will suspend meat suppliers sourcing soy animal feed from companies that drive the destruction of the Amazon and the Cerrado in Brazil, nor how they will exclude traders from their supply chain complicit in deforestation. For example, even with a recent policy commitment to zero deforestation, US agribusiness behemoth Cargill will accept or condone deforestation in its supply chain until at least 2030 – giving industrial meat interests nine years to bulldoze as much land as possible.
  • The scheme allows suppliers to purchase ‘mass balance’ credits or certificates if they are unable to prove that their soy is either from deforestation-free areas or from a ‘gold standard’ certified source of supply. This discredited approach is a ‘get out of jail free’ card because it could inadvertently support deforestation by allowing Tesco suppliers like Cargill to buy soy from recently destroyed forests and savannahs, and then buy credits from land that was cleared some time ago. This type of approach has also been criticised for lacking transparency and undermining traceability.
  • Finally, while the policy pays lip service to the Accountability Framework Initiative (AFI), it fails to advance the principle of ‘group level accountability’ for deforestation into practice. The AFI is currently advancing guidance that bestows responsibility on traders for land conversion that happens on any farms owned by the farmers supplying them, rather than just the farms directly in their supply chain. At present, the Tesco policy allows traders such as Cargill to sell Tesco suppliers certified no-deforestation animal feed, while continuing to buy from farmers that are razing forests in other parts of its supply chain.

A tangible way forward

We have seen whole industries change when they enforce robust policies on suppliers engaged in deforestation, pollution, or human rights abuse.

Many consumer facing companies have adopted strict policies on palm oil, for instance, that simply required suppliers not to engage in deforestation, with no excuses, no credits, and no greenwashing. Those policies were a key driver of a massive environmental success: deforestation for palm oil is down more than 90%.

Until Tesco and other companies adopt similarly strong policies and cut ties with supplier companies that are driving the destruction of Brazil’s forests – such as JBS, Cargill and Bunge, its meat is still going to be driving environmental destruction on an enormous scale.

These policies are simple, clear and affordable: to comply, all producers must do is produce meat and beef on the 1.6 billion acres of previously deforested land instead of expanding on the agricultural frontier.

That should just be the easy first step, instead of something we must fight for. But if Tesco is going to provide truly sustainable protein, it needs to go further:

  1. Help shift consumers to sustainable, plant-based diets. As a leading retailer in the UK, Tesco has a role to play in influencing consumer behaviour towards these diets which begin to tackle the demand-drivers of deforestation.
  2. Support strong forest protections in producer countries, while promoting the use of existing agricultural or degraded land for soy production. Advocacy by Tesco and other supermarkets when forest laws are under threat can help in this regard, as can cutting commercial links with suppliers that support deregulation of forest protections.
  1. Work with others to ensure full transparency and traceability in meat from farm to product; ensure that all soy entering the market is from ‘clean’ suppliers and move forward the principle of ‘group-level responsibility’ for deforestation - meaning that companies cannot deforest in some parts of their operation while selling ‘sustainable soy’ simultaneously to other parts of the market.

While Tesco shows positive intent through its new policy, action in these three areas would prove that the company is serious in tackling the drivers of deforestation, rather than allowing its suppliers to cut down forests on one hand, while reaping the benefits of sustainability certification and credits on the other.

Beef Scorecard: Global Food Brands Failing to Address Largest Driver of Deforestation

WASHINGTON, DC – The world's top supermarket and fast-food companies are largely ignoring the environmental and human rights abuses caused by their beef products, a new scorecard by Mighty Earth finds. The scorecard evaluates the beef sourcing practices of fifteen of the world’s largest grocery and fast-food companies that have pledged to end deforestation across their supply chains. Despite beef’s role as the top driver of global deforestation, only four companies- Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Carrefour, and McDonald’s - have taken some action to stop sourcing beef from destructive suppliers.

Scores shown for each food company
Click to Enlarge

“A small handful of global beef suppliers are leading the destruction of our global forests and selling meat to food companies around the world,” said Lucia von Reusner, Senior Campaign Director for Mighty Earth. “Supermarkets and fast-food companies are the gatekeepers in the supply chain that can either enforce sustainability standards or continue to allow meat suppliers to sell beef from deforested land to unwitting customers.”

Public awareness and concern about the environmental impacts of meat production is on the rise. Cattle is the most significant driver of native ecosystem conversion, responsible for over 60% of global deforestation from high-risk commodities between 2001-2015. Mighty Earth’s scorecard reveals how supermarket and fast-food companies are performing against their promises to stop destroying forests. Companies are evaluated on three criteria: policy commitment, monitoring & verification, and public reporting on progress.

Key findings include:

  • Despite the outsized destruction generated by the cattle sector, only four companies – Tesco (65/100), Marks & Spencer (62/100), Carrefour (61/100), and McDonald’s (54/100) – have begun to implement their deforestation and conversion-free (DCF) commitments for beef products.
  • Tesco – at only 65 out of a possible 100 points – was the best performer, followed by Marks & Spencer (62/100) in second place. The two companies were the only ones to demonstrate effective use of the ‘suspend and engage’ approach with their beef suppliers, having cut contracts with non-compliant suppliers and prioritized sourcing from low-risk suppliers.
  • Rewe (9/100), Aldi Süd (14/100), Ahold Delhaize (19/100), and Auchan Retail (24/100) were the worst performing companies according to the scorecard.
  • Most efforts to stop native ecosystem destruction in the beef industry are concentrated in Brazil’s Amazon and do not address other ecosystems, despite increasing evidence that the problem has spread to the Pantanal, Cerrado, the Gran Chaco region of Paraguay and Argentina, the Chiquitania in Bolivia, and even parts of Australia.

The scorecard also provides comprehensive recommendations for steps food companies can take to improve their performance. These recommendations include:

  • No-deforestation policy commitments must apply to all products globally, have a clear date for achieving compliance, include protections for all ecosystems beyond just forests, and have a clear cut-off date after which new deforestation will be considered a violation of the policy.
  • Implementing internal systems for monitoring the performance and compliance of beef suppliers, which includes a ‘suspend and engage’ protocol for non-compliant suppliers.
  • Require beef suppliers to provide data needed to evaluate performance, including full traceability information back to the farm level.
  • Report regularly on progress, including volumes of conversion-free beef, percent of supply chain that is fully traceable back to the farm level, and disclose a list of all beef suppliers.


Bolivia leaders and international organizations join forces to rescue Bolivian forests


Over the past five years, 600 civil society leaders and Bolivian organizations signed El Pacto del Bosque. Today they are joined by more than 20 international organizations that agree on the urgent need to find real solutions to stop the alarming deforestation rate in Bolivia (FCBC Report). Deforestation is the leading cause of the massive forest fires that ravaged more than 9 million hectares of protected national parks and forests in the Department of Santa Cruz between 2019 and 2020 (FAN Report). The Chiquitano Dry Forest, the largest tropical dry forest on the continent, has been severely affected by the deforestation linked to agriculture and cattle ranching and the increase in irregular human settlements.

Among the different international organizations endorsing El Pacto del Bosque are Action for Bolivia, Birdlife International, Canopée - Forets Vivantes, Changing Markets, Comissão Pastoral da Terra - Brasil, Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), Dogwood Alliance, Earthworm Foundation, Envol Vert, France Nature Environnement (FNE), Global Witness, Justice and Environment, National Wildlife Federation, Notre Affaire à Tous, NRDC, Mighty Earth, Rainforest Foundation USA, Reclaim Finance, Rights and Resources Initiative, Seattle Avocats, Tropenbos International, and ZERO - Associação Sistema Terrestre Sustentável.

The alarming deforestation rate in Bolivia has raised the interest of well-known personalities, including journalists, historians, artists, environmentalists, indigenous leaders, businessmen, citizens, and scientists who have joined forces behind El Pacto del Bosque. This initiative is led by the grassroots organization El Llamado del Bosque, which urgently seeks to find agreements, build strategic alliances and engage in actions intended to conserve the country's natural heritage.

"We need industry to offer sustainable agricultural products that preserve fragile ecosystems. There’s a growing international market for these commodities, free of fires and deforestation, with high demand and high profit margins. It’s important to learn from successful examples of agreements between government, industry, and civil society in South America that have managed to stop the destruction of the country's natural heritage and biodiversity without undermining the country’s' agro-export potential," said Gina Méndez, founder of the organization El Llamado del Bosque.

In 2006, the leading soy traders in Brazil, the Brazilian government and civil society signed an agreement to prevent the expansion of soy production in the Amazon rainforest. This agreement allowed for the expansion of soybean cultivation, doubling from 1.35 to 3.65 million hectares (2008-2015), without causing further deforestation since production only expanded on to previously cleared land.

"With massive support from significant Bolivian stakeholders, and now with the ample support of environmental organizations in Europe and the United States, we publicly invite the country's soybean and cattle sector bodies, ANAPO, CAO and FEGASACRUZ, to join this open dialogue that seeks a long-lasting solution for an urgent problem: the destruction of the Chiquitano Dry Forest, the largest and best-conserved forest of the continent," concluded Méndez.

European companies are also beginning to closely monitor for responsible and deforestation-free agricultural production to meet the growing demand of its consumers.

"The voracious appetite of European consumers is fueling the destruction of the jungles and forests of South America. However, and thanks to the work of civil society organizations, European citizens are increasingly aware of the negative impacts of their consumption patterns. They are beginning to demand deforestation-free products from supermarkets and restaurants. We believe that Bolivian farmers and cattle ranchers have a unique opportunity to protect the Chiquitano Dry Forest and guarantee a deforestation-free production," said Nico Muzi, Europe Director of the global environmental organization Mighty Earth, one of the signatory organizations.

JBS Promises 14 More Years of Forest Destruction

On March 23, 2021, JBS announced a "commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2040," including a pledge to "achieve zero deforestation across its global supply chain by 2035." Mighty Earth Vice President and Global Director for Latin America Sarah Lake released the following statement in response:

“In a much-publicized announcement, JBS has just promised at least 14 more years of forest destruction. As Brazil’s largest cattle company and one of the single worst companies driving deforestation, habitat destruction, and climate change, JBS’s climate and deforestation commitments should be commensurate with their outsized impact. By that standard, this latest pledge — to achieve zero deforestation by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2040 — is woefully inadequate. The climate is changing now. Forests are burning today. That JBS felt the need to make this announcement shows they are feeling the pressure to act; the paltry scope of the pledge demonstrates the need for us to keep that pressure on.”

Ending U.S. Companies' Complicity in Illegal Deforestation

Today, Mighty Earth joined with a number of civil society organizations to call on Congress and the Biden-Harris administration to "pass legislation to prevent agricultural commodities produced on illegally deforested land from entering the U.S. market and establish due diligence requirements on relevant commodity imports." Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) has just announced plans to introduce a bill that would take these steps.

In response, Mighty Earth Campaign Director Rose Garr released the following statement:

"U.S. companies have been complicit in driving deforestation, climate change, and mass extinctions around the world by importing agricultural products that come from illegally deforested lands. Senator Schatz's bill is a landmark piece of legislation that would require companies to understand where their products are coming from. It's just common sense that companies should only be selling legally-produced goods to Americans. In an age of transparency and accountability, it’s simply no longer acceptable for companies to claim ignorance about the origins of their products.

“Additionally, we are encouraged by the aid and incentives included in this bill. We can and should offer a helping hand to our allies. The financial and technical help in Senator Schatz’s bill will help rebuild the sort of international partnerships we need to tackle the global climate crisis."

Amazon indigenous communities and international NGOs sue supermarket giant Casino/Pão de Açúcar/Éxito over deforestation and human rights violations

Amazon indigenous communities and international NGOs sue supermarket giant Casino/Pão de Açúcar/Éxito over deforestation and human rights violations 

Indigenous groups to seek compensation for damages in first case brought against retail chain under groundbreaking French law to prevent social and environmental violations in supply chains 

March 3, 2020: Indigenous peoples from the Brazilian and Colombian Amazon and non-governmental organizations from France and the US today filed a lawsuit in the Saint-Etienne court against global retail giant Groupe Casino over selling beef products linked to deforestation and land grabbing.

This is the first time a supermarket chain is taken to court over deforestation and human rights violations under the French due diligence law adopted in March 2017 (“loi sur le devoir de vigilance” in French). Indigenous groups claim compensation for damages done to their customary lands and the impact on their livelihoods.

Environmental destruction and human rights violations

The lawsuit alleges systemic violations of human rights and environmental laws in Groupe Casino’s supply chains in Brazil and Colombia over a long period of time. According to evidence compiled and analysed by the Center for Climate Crime Analysis (CCCA) for this case, Groupe Casino regularly bought beef from three slaughterhouses owned by JBS, a giant meatpacker. The three slaughterhouses sourced cattle from 592 suppliers responsible for at least 50,000 hectares of deforestation between 2008 and 2020 (1). The deforested area is five times the size of Paris.

Evidence submitted in this lawsuit also shows violations of indigenous rights. In one of the documented cases, customary land owned and managed by the Uru Eu Wau Wau community in the State of Rondônia, Brazil was invaded and put into production by cattle farms supplying beef to Casino’s Pão de Açúcar.

Groupe Casino’s responsibility

Despite numerous media reports linking Groupe Casino’s products to deforestation and land grabbing, the company has failed to overhaul its monitoring and enforcement policies to ensure there’s no environmental or human rights violations in its entire supply chain. The company has dared to write to the plaintiffs that “due to the low number of reports mentioning cattle as a driver of deforestation in Colombia” Casino doesn’t consider it relevant to include the country in the scope of their due diligence plan. Yet, Colombia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, with cattle being the main cause (2).

In spite of the ever-growing body of evidence linking the world’s biggest meat company, JBS, to deforestation and even slave labour (3), Casino Group still buys from JBS. Furthermore, Groupe Casino has failed to commit to only sell zero-deforestation nor zero-conversion meat in their Pão de Açúcar, Casino or Grupo Éxito stores.

Groupe Casino is the largest supermarket chain in Brazil and Colombia through its brands Pão de Açúcar and Grupo Éxito respectively. Casino’s South American operations account for nearly half (47%) of the group’s global revenues.

France’s Duty of Vigilance law requires France-based companies with over 5,000 employees to take adequate and effective measures to prevent serious human rights and environmental violations in their entire supply chains. Should they fail to do so, they may be held liable and ordered to pay damages.

Amazon’s tipping point

Cattle ranching is the main driver of deforestation in South America, in particular in Brazil. According to Brazil’s space agency (INPE), deforestation of the Amazon rainforest has surged to a 12-year high. The Amazon is in danger of reaching a tipping point of switching from a canopy rainforest to open grassland.

Last December, the Brazilian government removed any measure to tackle deforestation in the national climate action plan (known as an NDC) under the Paris Agreement, although forest loss continues to be the main source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country.

Comments from the plaintiffs

The plaintiffs in this lawsuit include the Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), the National Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon (OPIAC), the Federation of Indigenous Peoples of Pará (FEPIPA), the Federation of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations of Mato Grosso (FEPOIMT), Pastoral Commission of the Earth (CPT), Canopée, Envol Vert, France Nature Environnement, Mighty Earth, Notre Affaire à Tous and Sherpa.

The breadth and diversity of the coalition is testament to the global footprint and the variety of impacts caused by industrial beef production as well as the need for a collective defense.

Luis Eloy Terena of the Terena people of Brazil, legal advisor at COIAB said: “It is important for COIAB to be part of this lawsuit because the Brazilian Amazon falls within purview for action in defense of the constitutional rights and guarantees of the indigenous peoples who live here. We are responsible as well for defending isolated or initially contacted peoples. As we make clear in the complaint, the demand for beef by Casino and Pão de Açúcar brings deforestation and land grabbing and violence, and the murder of indigenous leaders when they choose to resist. With this lawsuit, we seek to hold  the company accountable for the consequences of these impacts and to bring some relief to the reality confronted by our Indigenous Peoples on their Lands.”

Fany Kuiru Castro of the Uitoto people of Colombia, director at OPIAC said: “Cattle ranching, monocultures and other extractive industries are putting our lives at risk and exterminating indigenous peoples. Therefore this legal action over neglecting the demands in the meat supply chain, which come from cattle ranching, is fully supported by our organization.” 

Boris Patentreger, co-founder of Envol Vert, said: “In 2021, in a world where we can technically trace and monitor everything, an international group called Casino, which has seen tremendous growth in South America in the last years, fails to eliminate deforestation from all its supply chain. That’s unacceptable!”

Lucie Chatelain, lawyer at Sherpa, said: “The number of deforestation and human rights abuses cases that have been documented in Casino’s supply chain in Brazil shows that its alleged vigilance measures are neither adequate, nor effective. Sherpa successfully advocated for years for the adoption of the French Duty of Vigilance Law and this case is emblematic of the violations that it precisely aims to avoid.”

Sebastien Mabile, lawyer of Seattle Avocats, said: “This lawsuit will demonstrate the breadth and depth of France’s Duty of Vigilance law, which applies to the entire supply chain, both in France and abroad. The law imposes on multinational corporations actions to prevent breaches proportional to the risks identified, as well as strict social and judiciary controls. The seriousness of the violations documented in this case leads us to initiate the first liability action on the basis of this text.”

Nico Muzi, Europe director of Mighty Earth, said: “JBS is not only the largest meat company in the world but it’s also one of the worst forest destroyers in Brazil. For this reason Groupe Casino must drop JBS altogether. But we also call on other leading European supermarkets such as Carrefour, Tesco, Albert Heijn and Lidl to break their links to deforestation and drop JBS, the slaughter of the Amazon.

Cecilia Rinaudo, general coordinator of Notre Affaire à Tous, said: “This case is a tragic example of the interdependence between the environment and human rights, both protected by the Duty of diligence law. Casino only identifies slave labour as an associated risk in their supply chain without taking any measure to eradicate it. Moreover, the firm failed to identify land grabbing as a threat to human rights despite many reports on this well-known issue. Casino cannot stay passive and must adopt concrete measures to prevent these major risks.”

Adeline Favrel, forest campaign coordinator of France Nature Environnement, said: “France adopted the Duty of Vigilance law in 2017 and the National Strategy Against Imported Deforestation in 2018. These public policies must be translated into concrete actions by companies like Casino to finally stop deforestation.”

Klervi Le Guenic, campaigner of Canopée said: “Casino is not the only retailer responsible, they all have the power to change things. Carrefour is one of the largest retailers in Brazil and is also particularly exposed to deforestation risks. They have to ditch the meat companies linked to Amazon destruction.” 

Notes to the Editor:

  1. Last week, investigative journalism group Reporter Brasil published a new report showing that the three largest supermarket chains in Brazil Casino’s Pão de Açúcar, Carrefour and Grupo Big have sold beef from mega-farms that illegally cleared thousands of hectares of forests.
  2. Report on deforestation fronts, 2021
  3. Historically, commercial activity in rural areas in Brazil have been responsible for slavery and forced labour. The sector with the highest number of cases of slavery is cattle farming. According to the Comissao Pastoral da Terra and Brazil’s federal government data, almost half (47%) of the slave labour cases identified between 2003 and 2020 are linked to the cattle sector. The latest Reporter Brasil’s investigation traced most slave labour cases to JBS slaughterhouses, key supplier to Casino’s Pão de Açúcar.

Coalition members:

OPIAC (Organización Nacional de los Pueblos Indígenas de la Amazonia Colombiana) is the Colombian Indigenous organization of the Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon before national and international institutions. Its main objective is to ensure that all the collective and individual rights of its members are respected and recognized by all actors located in the Colombian Amazon region.

COIAB (Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon) founded on April 19, 1989, is the largest regional indigenous organization in Brazil, which emerged on the initiative of leaders of indigenous organizations. The mission of COIAB is to defend the rights of indigenous peoples to land, health, education, culture and sustainability, taking into account the diversity of peoples and seeking their autonomy through political articulation and the strengthening of indigenous organizations.

FEPIPA (Federation of Indigenous Peoples of Pará) founded in April 2016, is an indigenous organization, created to promote the social, political, economic and cultural well-being and human rights of indigenous peoples. It aims to defend and discuss the collective interests of the indigenous peoples and communities of the State of Pará, promoting their social, cultural, economic and political organization, strengthening their autonomy.

FEPOIMT (Federation of Indigenous Peoples of Mato Grosso) created in June 2016 was born from the need to unite for political action and articulation, aimed at the social, cultural, economic organisation and the sustainable and political development of Indigenous Peoples and organisations of Mato Grosso. Its main challenges are the guarantee and regularization of land, environmental management, protection of the territory and the fight for Indigenous rights.

CPT (Pastoral Commission of the Earth) is part of the Pastoral Commissions of the Conference of Bishops of Brazil. It was created to defend the peasants and ensure a supportive and fraternal presence among the rural populations. Present in many dioceses, it is committed to the crucial issue of sharing the land and against the destruction of the environment.

Envol Vert acts for the preservation of forests and biodiversity in Latin America (mainly Colombia and Peru) and in France. Since 2011, we have been developing concrete and effective field projects that include the reforestation of degraded areas, the development of agroforestry and alternatives to illegal logging such as ecotourism, the development of nature reserves, conservation, and reintroduction of species. Envol Vert also conducts communication campaigns and awareness-raising actions to encourage businesses and citizens to change their production and consumption patterns.

Mighty Earth is a global environmental campaign organization that works to protect forests, conserve oceans, and address climate change. We work to drive large-scale action towards environmentally responsible agriculture that protects native ecosystems, wildlife, and water, and respects local community rights. Our campaigns and our team have played a leading role in persuading the world’s largest food and agriculture companies to adopt policies to eliminate deforestation and human rights abuse from their supply chains, and driven adoption of multi-billion dollar shifts to clean energy.

Notre Affaire à Tous is an association that works to protect life, the natural commons and the climate through the use of law. Coming from the movement for the recognition of the crime of ecocide in international law in order to punish the most serious crimes against the environment and at the origin of the “Affair of the Century,” the members of Notre Affaire à Tous position themselves as “advocates for the planet”, seeking to establish through case law, legal advocacy, and citizen mobilization an effective and objective responsibility of humans towards the environment.

Seattle Avocats is a law firm specializing in issues of corporate liability for environmental and human rights violations. Mr. Sébastien Mabile and Mr. François de Cambiaire represent NGOs and communities within the framework of the first actions brought on the basis of the law on the duty of vigilance of companies, in particular against Total and against the transport group XPO Logistics, and are interested in particular to the debates underway at international and European level on the social and criminal responsibility of multinationals. With regard to particularly serious damage to the environment having equally serious consequences on the rights of Indigenous populations, the Seattle Avocats law firm provides its support and expertise to the international coalition of associations which call on the Casino group to stand by. comply with the law on the duty of vigilance.

Sherpa is an association created in 2001 whose mission is to fight new forms of impunity linked to globalization and to defend communities that are victims of economic crimes. Sherpa works to put the law at the service of a fairer globalization. The action of the association is based on four interdependent tools: research, litigation, advocacy and capacity building. These actions are carried out by a team of jurists and lawyers. Sherpa’s activities have helped compensate communities affected by economic crimes, and have contributed to historic court rulings against multinational companies and groundbreaking legislative policies.

Canopée Forets Vivantes is a new organization founded in 2018 which surges from the critical need to build a citizen counter-power to better protect forests in France and in the world. We are a bell-ringer association that reports the threats on forests. We not only report, what we want is acting at the root of the issues by producing a quality counter-expertise and bringing it to the public space. Canopée is a member of Friends of the Earth and of the group SOS Forêt.

France Nature Environment is the French federation of Voluntary Organizations for nature preservation and environmental protection. We bring together 3 500 French NGOs, across 53 organizations in French mainland and overseas territories. Since 1968, we have been fighting for ecological transition by leading citizen mobilization. We raise public awareness through environmental education. We are constantly striving to improve environmental law. We regularly contribute to French and European public policies for better environmental regulations. Through whistleblowing, we make sure they actually are enforced.

New Campaign Tells Big Business: Protect Forests to Prevent Pandemics

WASHINGTON, DC – Environmental organization Mighty Earth launched the latest phase of its campaign to protect tropical forests today with a new video calling on major corporations to protect forests to help prevent the next global pandemic.

“We are still in the grips of COVID-19, but there’s nothing that says we’ll only have to deal with one pandemic at a time. We should not wait for this storm to pass before we prepare for the next one,” said Sarah Lake, Mighty Earth VP and Global Director for Latin America. “COVID-19, like SARS, MERS, Ebola, and AIDS before it, likely emerged from the sort of human-wildlife interaction that deforestation fosters. Indeed, destruction of native ecosystems is the single greatest risk factor for new pandemics. The companies driving ecological destruction in tropical forests – like Cargill and JBS – must be held to account for their recklessness. And that means that the stores people trust, like Costco, need to stop doing business with them.”

Mighty Earth has released a video highlighting the link between forest destruction and zoonosis – the transmission of disease from animal hosts to human populations – and singled out multinational agribusiness giants as the biggest offenders.

“As Cargill and JBS bulldoze and incinerate these environments, this destruction of natural habitat causes mosquito populations to explode and forces bats and rodents to find new homes deeper into our communities, carrying with them potential new diseases and increasing the risk that these diseases will jump from animal to human,” the video’s narration says. ”This combination of human proximity and disease-carrying wildlife is the perfect Petri dish to breed dangerous new viruses and spread them across the globe.”

Mighty Earth has previously documented how these companies drive deforestation and fires in Latin America, accelerating the twin crises of climate change and mass extinction while trampling on the rights of Indigenous people and local communities.

“We have long known that these companies are behind the felled trees and choking smoke, and so have the supermarkets that continue to do business with them,” said Lake. “But in the past year, we’ve all come to understand just how dangerous it is to continue to destroy forests. We can’t risk another global pandemic. And as Dr. Monica Nirmala told us earlier this year, healthy forests just might be humanity’s best antivirus.”

Additional Resources:


European Parliament Urges the EU to Stop Deforestation

Today, the European Parliament adopted a legislative initiative report urging the European Commission to propose a strong law to ensure products sold in the Union are deforestation-free and don’t cause human rights abuses.

Nico Muzi, Europe Director of environmental NGO Mighty Earth, applauded the vote:

“For too long, deforestation around the world has been driven by consumption right here in Europe,” he said. “But Europeans are increasingly demanding change and seeking assurances that the food they buy isn’t worsening climate change, destroying forests or accelerating mass extinctions. Today’s vote shows that their political representatives are listening. It’s high time for the European Commission and major companies to do the same.”

The EU is responsible for over 10 percent of global deforestation through the imports of commodities such as meat, soy, dairy, palm oil, cacao, coffee and rubber. The European Commission has opened a public consultation to tackle deforestation caused by EU consumption. Mighty Earth has joined the #Together4Forests campaign along more than 100 NGOs urging the European Commission to pass strong regulation to ensure only deforestation-free products are sold in the bloc. So far more than 250,000 people have joined the movement calling for deforestation-free products.

The report adopted today, drafted by MEP Delara Burkhhardt, calls for mandatory due diligence to make sure products sold in the Union are deforestation-free and do not cause ecosystem destruction (e.g. savannah, peatlands, mangroves) or human rights abuses. The report covers all businesses, including banks and investment funds, to prevent the use of Europeans’ savings to bankroll deforestation. The report also introduces a clear system of civil liability to sanction corporations that bring deforestation products to the EU.

JBS is an Environmental and Legal Liability

Owners of JBS, the world’s largest meat company, pleaded guilty to paying more than $150 million in bribes to Brazilian officials. In response to the news, Mighty Earth Vice President and Global Director for Latin America Sarah Lake released the following statement:

“The saddest thing about this news is that nobody is surprised by JBS’s criminality anymore. Just this week, we’ve learned that the company’s owners will pay more than $250 million in fines to Brazil and the U.S. because of an extensive bribery scheme; officials in Brazil brought their eighteenth civil suit against JBS over its failure to protect employees from COVID-19; and Pilgrim’s Pride, a JBS brand, just reached a $100 million plea agreement over price-fixing in the poultry industry.

“No responsible enterprise should be doing business with JBS. In addition to their rampant lawbreaking, JBS is one of the companies driving the destruction of the Amazon. Climate-changing deforestation and raging fires are clearing the way for more JBS cattle even now. People are increasingly demanding products produced sustainably, and will punish stores that stock JBS brands by looking elsewhere for more responsible options.

“JBS is an environmental and legal liability. Financiers should divest from JBS to avoid the significant financial risk, and supermarkets should drop JBS as a supplier to avoid being complicit in criminal behavior. Every day these financiers and supermarkets fail to act is another day JBS is illegally making money by exploiting people and the planet."


More on JBS:

Indigenous-Led Movement Tells Brazilian Government: #HandsOffTheAmazon

Mighty Earth joins the Indigenous led #HandsOffTheAmazon movement, including more than 30 civil society organizations, in signing onto a letter calling for renewed effort to protect the Amazon. Given the lackluster efforts taken by the Brazilian government in recent years, urgent action is needed to stop deforestation in the Amazon, protecting the livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples and the keeping the Amazon from ecosystem collapse due to decades of destruction.

#HandsOffTheAmazon is a global campaign coordinated by APIB (an organization representing the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil) and its international partners to mobilize civil society, multinational companies, and the financial sector in pressuring the Brazilian government to stop making empty promises and implement a long-term plan that restores environmental protections and upholds the rights of Indigenous Peoples. The letter, which will be the culmination of the campaign, will be delivered online and in-person to the federal government of Brazil and select Brazilian Embassies on Wednesday, October 7.

In the letter, the signatories make it clear that it is too late for another empty promise and demand comprehensive solutions, including the following actions:

  • Establish and implement a concrete, long-term plan to fight deforestation and protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Prohibit and immediately halt all economic activity occurring in areas deforested after 2018.
  • Restore and uphold territorial rights of Indigenous Peoples, as outlined in the Brazilian constitution.
  • Prohibit and immediately halt all economic activity occurring in areas belonging to Indigenous and traditional communities, unless their full consent has been granted.
  • Reinvigorate capacity of Brazil’s environmental agencies
  • Enhance traceability by creating legal conditions for soft commodities (beef, soy, etc.) and other goods (timber, minerals, etc.) through due diligence requirements.

BBC: Food Firms Urging Tougher Deforestation Rules

The BBC reports on industry calls for tougher anti-deforestation laws in the UK:

Robin Willoughby, from the green group Mighty Earth said: "The proposed legislation would continue to allow rampant deforestation in hotspots such as Indonesia and Brazil (where much of the deforestation is legal).

"With the Amazon in flames and forests being cut down at an alarming rate, Nature doesn't recognise the difference between legal and illegal deforestation."

Read the full story here.


Photo: Amazon rainforest burning under smoke in sunny day in Acre, Brazil, near the border with Bolivia. Credit: PARALAXIS


Fact Check: JBS Exaggerates Deforestation Commitment

By Sarah Lake

JBS recently announced a supposedly new commitment to address deforestation from indirect suppliers of their cattle in the AmazonBut this announcement merely restates a commitment made more than 10 years ago to the exact same goal. The announcement earned the company some positive headlines, as it was no doubt intended to do, but JBS’ commitment is insufficient, simply the latest in a long line of public commitments without follow-through 

The inclusion of indirect suppliers in meatpackers’ sustainability efforts is essential to fighting deforestation. But to fully address their role in deforestation from cattle – the leading driver of deforestation in Brazil – JBS must commit to monitoring direct and indirect suppliers in all sourcing areas and for both illegal and legal deforestationThe new commitment still addresses only the small portion of their supply chain in the Amazon, even as deforestation continues to accelerate at an unprecedented rate in the Brazilian Cerrado and beyond. More than 50 percent of JBS’ cattle for export comes from outside of the Amazon, in places where they have no policies or monitoring in place. That figure is likely higher for their entire supply chain. The commitment also excludes any concern for deforestation that is legal under the Brazilian law, despite the significant impacts on biodiversity, local peoples, and climate emissions. Legal conversion allows for the clearance of over 88 million hectares of land - an area twice the size of Sweden - if companies do not take action. 

To effectively combat deforestation, JBS must commit to addressing both legal and illegal deforestation driven by both its indirect and direct suppliers – and do so in the near term. At the current rate of deforestation, by 2025 – the time JBS plans to effectively monitor a small portion of their supply chain in the Amazon – more than 25,000 square kilometers of land will have been cleared in the Cerrado aloneAn area the size of the entire country of Belgium, home to irreplaceable biodiversity, Indigenous communities, and valuable carbon sinks, will be lostThat’s woefully insufficient. JBS must take more robust action in a shorter timeframe to protect native ecosystems, the climate, and Indigenous and community lands. 

JBS must also ensure that its commitments are effectively implemented and enforced. That means the company must exclude suppliers that violate its policy – something they have nearly entirely failed to do in the last decade since they originally promised to address deforestation in the Amazon. 

JBS’ latest misdirection and PR spin do not change the underlying facts: the company is destroying Latin American forests and must be stopped. JBS is only able to promote this commitment as ambitious because grocery stores and other retailers continue to ignore the true cost of JBS’ environmental and human rights violations. It is on these stores – companies like Costco, Carrefour, and Casino – to send a clear signal that business as usual is no longer enough. Nobody wants to shop at a grocery store that’s doing business with forest destroyers. 

JBS Fact Check 

JBS claim in the JBS Green Platform Reality
For more than a decade the company has ensured ‘100% of its direct beef suppliers comply with its responsible sourcing policies' JBS only monitors supplies in the Amazon per its commitment

JBS has had widespread violations with as many as one out of every five cattle being non-compliant with sustainability commitments.

Direct supplies only amount for a small portion of their supply chain.

‘The new platform will provide an essential layer of information to enable cattle to be traced throughout their lives and ensure any cattle from producers involved in illegal deforestation cannot enter the JBS supply chain’ JBS does not monitor cattle from indirect suppliers outside of the Amazon – a major portion of their supply chain.

Any deforestation on legally deforested land would still enter JBS’ supply chain

The traceability system relies on voluntary participation by JBS suppliers, asking them to share cattle transit records without any incentives for participation or sanctions for non-participation.

JBS claims it ‘monitors 100% of its cattle suppliers using strict sustainability criteria, including zero tolerance for deforestation, encroachment on indigenous lands or environmental conservation unites, forced labor, or the use of areas embargoed by IBAMA’ JBS is not monitoring 100% of its cattle suppliers since it is only committing to monitor suppliers in the Amazon, excluding all suppliers in other biomes.

JBS tolerates deforestation as it is only monitoring and enforcing illegal deforestation, and not legal deforestation.

JBS have tolerated expansive and ongoing deforestation and encroachment on indigenous lands as noted as recently as 2019

A Timeline of Disappointment 

A brief foray into JBS’ history of statements followed by inaction: 

2009: JBS commits to exclude any cattle from land in the Amazon deforested after 2009, with extension to indirect suppliers by 2011. 

2011: JBS is found to source from illegally deforested land in the Amazon and to use slave labor in its supply chain


2012JBS claims ‘First and foremost, JBS remains fully committed to sourcing livestock from farms that are not involved in any illegal activities, including illegal deforestation, the invasion of indigenous lands or the use of any form of slavery’ 

 2016: JBS is found in government audits to have 19% of their cattle supplies in the Amazon non-compliant with requirements regarding sustainable sourcing including no illegal deforestation, respect for protected and indigenous areas, and free of slave labor. 

 2017: JBS is again found to have systemic non-compliance in 2018 government audits even with looser audit standards – over 8% of all cattle sourced in the Amazon are non-compliant. 

 2018: JBS illegally buys cattle from 11 ranches in the Serra do Cachimbo Biological Preserve 


2019JBS claims that 100 percent of its cattle purchases from direct suppliers “were in compliance with our responsible sourcing policies” 

 July 2019: JBS buys cattle from a blacklisted farm in the Amazon with documented illegal deforestation 

 June-July 2020: JBS buys from farms with over 3,000 hectares of deforestation in the Amazon, including one farm directly suppling to JBS. 


September 2020JBS states the company has ensured for over a decade that 100% of its direct beef suppliers comply with its responsible sourcing policies"


Photo: Recently cut and burned rainforest turned into a cattle ranch in the Brazilian Amazon, where cattle ranching is the biggest cause of deforestation. Photo by Frontpage

Smoke in Porto Vehlo

2020 Amazon Fires Linked to Deforestation by JBS, Marfrig, and Minerva; Likely Exacerbated COVID-19 Outbreaks

New analysis demonstrates supply chain overlap and shows fires were highly concentrated in areas with high rates of COVID-19 infection

WASHINGTON, DC – A new analysis by environmental campaign organization Mighty Earth, working in collaboration with MapHubs, links meat companies JBS, Marfrig, and Minerva to the fires raging in the Amazon and highlights how these fires are likely exacerbating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on local communities. 

The report, Fanning the Flames: The Corporations Destroying the Amazon and Worsening the COVID-19 Pandemic, maps the fires intentionally set in Brazil this year and overlays local company supply chain information to understand which companies are driving the destructionUnlike the wildfires in the U.S., fires in the Amazon are intentionally set to clear land for use as cattle pasture or for crop production. Mighty Earth finds that just three companies – JBS, Marfrig, and Minerva – are responsible for 72 percent of beef exported in the areas with the highest concentration of fires. 

The findings echo Mighty Earth’s 2019 report, The Companies Behind the Burning of the Amazon. “It’s not a mystery. The same companies named in last year’s report – especially JBS and Marfrig – are again linked to the fires raging in 2020,” said Mighty Earth Campaign Director Lucia von Reusner. After the worldwide outrage last summer about the destruction of the Amazon, it’s unthinkable that these companies have continued to go about business as usual without repercussions.

The first half of September saw more than double the number of fires in the Amazon compared to the same time last year, according to data from Brazil’s national space research agency INPE. The report shows this year’s fires highly concentrated in three distinct “hotspots,” all areas of agricultural expansion, primarily for cattle production. Following last year’s fires, scientists warned that the Amazon was nearing a ‘tipping point’ of ecological collapse. 

Mighty Earth’s analysis also highlights how these fires are likely exacerbating the impacts of COVID-19. The three hotspot municipalities reported a combined 47,988 cases as of August 16, 2020, and an infection rate more than twice the national average by total population. Local communities have blamed the agricultural industry for worsening the impacts of the pandemic, both through crowding workers into unsanitary processing plants and burning land in ways that cause respiratory ailments. Even in a normal year, smoke from forest fires can cause or exacerbate respiratory problems, and Brazil saw a significant rise in hospitalizations and loss of life during the peak fire season in 2019. This year’s fires are likely to compound existing health risks for communities already suffering from the pandemic. 

In response to the findings, Mighty Earth called on global supermarkets and consumer goods stores to stop buying from suppliers that are destroying the rainforest. Many of the world’s largest food companies have adopted no-deforestation sourcing standards in response to public backlash, but are largely failing to deliver on these promises.

People are demanding sustainable options, and simply do not want their local grocery store stocking its shelves with products that drove rainforest destruction,” said von ReusnerLast year’s global outcry didn’t stop the same bad actors from burning again this year. Even a global respiratory pandemic hasn’t stopped them from starting fires that choke the skies with haze. The only way these companies will change their practices is if the grocery stores that people trust – Metro, Costco, Casino, and Ahold Delhaize stores like Giant, Food Lion, and Stop & Shop – stop buying from the arsonists of the Amazon.” 

While many major global brands have adopted no-deforestation sourcing policies for soy, they have not applied these same standards to beef despite beef’s significantly larger deforestation footprint. JBS, the biggest meat producer in the world, has publicly committed to eradicate deforestation in its direct supply chain yet is continually linked to deforestation throughout its indirect supply chain.  

Until we have full transparency and traceability in supply chains and clear cutoff dates are established for deforestation, the unnecessary destruction of the already-vulnerable Amazon will continue,” said von Reusner. 

Cargill's Vague Plan to Address its Environmental Destruction Lacks Key Details

Cargill has announced a pledge to improve farming practices on 10 million acres of North American farmland by 2030. In response, Mighty Earth Campaign Director Lucia von Reusner released the following statement: 

“American farmland has been deteriorating rapidly under the onslaught of industrial farming practices that tear up the landscape and pollute water with little regard to the consequences. Cargill’s announcement suggests they are beginning to recognize the urgency of the problem. Unfortunately, Cargill has a history of making ambitious, highly publicized promises to address the damage caused by its supply chains but frequently fails to provide concrete implementation plans or details for follow-through. Americans want and deserve a clear plan explaining how Cargill is going to keep our waters clean, the climate stable, and soils healthy. 

“Cargill has a long track record as one of themost polluting companies in America. Overcoming this reputation will require transparency and clear evidence of verifiable changes that are reported to the public. We urge Cargill to provide clear details for how this promise will be implemented and evaluated, and to provide regular reports on progress. 

“Key details that are missing from Cargill’s pledge include the locations and total number of acres engaged, the types of farming practices that will be implemented, including cover cropping, conservation tillage, fertilizer optimization, buffer strips, and protection for native ecosystems, the environmental outcomes achieved for those acres – with a particular focus on reducing nutrient runoff, and the specific methods for tracking and verifying environmental improvements. 

“This information is necessary for customers, employees, local communities, and financiers to know where and how Cargill is delivering on its sustainability promise.”  


The action from Cargill follows a year of campaigning by Mighty Earth and communities across the American Midwest and South concerned about agricultural runoff pollution. Runoff from industrial farms is the largest source of water pollution in the United States, contaminating drinking water for millions of Americans and causing toxic ‘dead zones’ in key waterways. Uncontrolled runoff from industrial agriculture gets flushed down the Mississippi River and is the main source of pollution causing the Gulf of Mexico’s annual dead zone, which regularly expands to an area covering thousands of square miles. Mighty Earth reports have found Cargill to be responsible for water pollution in the United States as well as widespread deforestation across Latin America. As one of the largest agribusiness companies in the world, Cargill plays a major role in shaping global farming practices. 

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The Amazon is burning again. Grasslands are being wiped out to make way for cattle and soy. Inadvertently, Europeans are fueling deforestation across the world with the products they buy in Europe.

Europe needs strong laws to ensure corporations only sell deforestation-free products. And right now we have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to curb deforestation. A new EU law on products linked to deforestation is within reach, and the European Commission is asking for your opinion.

Make your voice heard and tell the EU Commission corporations shouldn't be allowed to sell products that drive deforestation, destroying the homes of Indigenous communities and wildlife.

You can say No to destruction of nature with one click. Show your support by filling in your details in the form below and click on ACT NOW.


Research reveals we are losing natural habitats at an alarming rate. Over the past decade, the Amazon has lost more than 8.4 million football fields worth of tree cover, and 10 million football fields of natural habitat has been lost in the Cerrado, the most biodiverse savannah in the world. The main driver is destructive agriculture for commodities such as soy used in animal feed, palm oil, livestock, cocoa and more. These ingredients are hidden on our supermarket shelves, and very hard to avoid. 

The EU must play a leading role in the protection of the world's forests and other ecosystems. If we don’t stop deforestation, forest degradation or the conversion and degradation of other ecosystems, we might lose our fight against climate change and biodiversity collapse. You can help change this!



Deforestation and land destruction are complex problems in which we are all wittingly or unwittingly involved in. Since currently, the European Union does not stop products linked to the destruction of nature from entering the EU market, these can then end up on our supermarket shelves and our plates. Palm oil is an ingredient of many of our processed foods and cosmetic products, while soy is fed to the animals raised for our local meat and dairy products. We are literally eating up our forests without even knowing it. 

The EU is a top importer of palm oil and soy, but also other commodities that drive deforestation like beef from livestock farming in the Amazon, coffee and cocoa. We do not want to ban these products - we want to make sure they are produced sustainably, but to do this we need a strong EU law. You can help. 



Consumers deserve certainty that their food choices do not inadvertently contribute to  deforestation, ecosystem conversion and land degradation. A strong law that stops products linked to deforestation and ecosystem degradation from entering the EU market by the end of 2021 can achieve this. Such a law would have a massive impact, and it is now being discussed in Brussels. It is within reach, but we need your help to make it happen! 

Act NOW #Together4Forests: ask the European Commission to protect our future!