Cattle

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

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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


cattle_amazon_deforestation

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. 

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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.”  

Background:  

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. 

Additional Resources: 


#Together4Forests

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.


WHAT’S THE PROBLEM? 

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!

 

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE? 

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. 

 

WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?

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!


After Blockbuster Report, Costco, Stop & Shop, and Carrefour Must Cancel Contracts with JBS

A new report by the financial sustainability analysts Chain Reaction Research conservatively estimates that JBS’ total deforestation footprint may be as high as 200,000 ha in its direct supply chain and 1.5 million ha in its indirect supply chain. Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz released the following statement in response:

"This blockbuster report makes it clear that there is no longer any ethical justification for doing business with JBS. With as much as 1.7 million hectares of deforestation in its supply chain over the past 12 years – an area larger than the state of Connecticut, and the vast majority coming from its completely unmonitored indirect supply chain – JBS is a menace to our planet and the Indigenous peoples for whom these forests are home. Supermarkets have been politely asking JBS to change for more than a decade, but the forests keep burning. These retailers must put excuses aside and take action now, because their own customers are increasingly refusing to buy goods linked to environmental destruction.

"Costco, Stop & Shop, Carrefour, and any retailer that claims to care about sustainability or climate change has only one option: drop JBS now."


Protests Push Costco, Stop & Shop to Cut Ties With Forest-Destroying Suppliers Cargill and JBS

Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz released the following statement in response to widespread protests calling on Costco, Stop & Shop, and other supermarkets to cut ties with Cargill and JBS, two agribusiness giants driving the destruction of forests around the world:

"The tides are turning against the arsonists of the Amazon.

"We recently learned that Nordea Asset Management, northern Europe’s largest financial services group, has dropped JBS from its investment portfolio over concerns about the company’s complicity in deforestation in Latin America. In recent months, both Nestlé and Grieg Seafood have taken similar actions against Cargill. And yesterday, across North America and Europe, protesters took to the streets to stand up for the world’s rainforests and our climate.

"They donned masks and stood up to the companies that continue to deforest and degrade fragile ecosystems even as we spiral toward climate chaos. They stood up to a global agribusiness system that disregards the health and safety of Indigenous peoples and tramples on their rights in pursuit of new lands to bulldoze. These protesters stood up and said: we know who the villains are, and we demand that our local supermarkets – the places we rely on, the sellers we trust – stop doing business with them.

"We applaud their bravery for taking action responsibly in the midst of a global pandemic, and welcome this progress in the fight to decouple food production from environmental destruction.”

-

Header Photo Credit: Linnea Henrikson


Supermarkets Urged to Actually Stop Buying from Companies Destroying the Amazon

Ahold Delhaize, Costco, Metro, and more urged to immediately adopt robust sourcing policies to build on success of recent demands that Brazil stop allowing bulldozing of Amazon, killing of Indigenous people

WASHINGTON, DC – In new letters released publicly today, Mighty Earth is calling on 21 of the largest supermarkets and retailers in Europe and the United States to back up their stated commitments to environmental standards with new policies that would immediately cancel contracts with deforesting suppliers including Cargill, Bunge, and JBS.

"Forests around the world are being intentionally torched. Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is higher than it’s been in a decade, and anti-environment fanatics are determined to use the cover of the coronavirus pandemic to wreak further havoc," said Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz. "Our planet is in crisis. The time for polite requests to stop deforestation has passed. It’s time to cut contracts with those responsible. Customers are demanding sustainable options, and simply do not want their local grocery store stocking its shelves with products of destroyed rainforests and ethnic cleansing."

The letters, sent to the CEOs of Ahold Delhaize, Albertsons Companies, Amazon, Aramark, Compass Group, Costco, Edeka Group, Kroger, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Metro Group, Morisons, Rewe, Sainsbury's, Sysco, Target, Tesco, Trader Joe's, Walmart, Wegmans, and Whole Foods, note that the recent actions of British supermarkets have "demonstrated the power that the private sector can deploy to protect the environment and human rights." The letter is also being sent to consumer goods companies like Unilever and Mars .

An open letter to the Brazilian Congress warned that a proposed law to open up the Amazon rainforest to further destruction would "put at risk the ability of organisations such as ours to continue sourcing from Brazil in the future," citing the Amazon’s wildlife and its crucial role in the climate and water cycles. Upon receiving the letter, the Brazilian government almost immediately delayed voting on the bill. Many of the companies that Mighty Earth has reached out to were signatories on the British supermarket letter.

"These companies have the market leverage and they have demonstrated the capacity and willingness to use it. We have seen market pressure work to prevent environmental destruction – and remarkably quickly," said Hurowitz. "But food brans now must turn their attention to dealing with suppliers that are driving this deforestation. If these companies can move the Brazilian government, they can move the companies that rely on supplier contracts to stay in business."

The letters outline the ongoing crisis, saying that "deforestation in South America has surged over the last year, in large measure because a small number of critical companies that supply meat and animal feed continue to drive massive deforestation and human rights abuses. We are therefore calling on you to adopt a no-deforestation policy with a clear non-compliance protocol that results in suspended or cancelled contracts with violating suppliers such as Cargill, Bunge, and JBS."

Investigations into the destruction in South America have repeatedly uncovered these three companies at the root of the problem. Chain Reaction Research recently released an investor report that documented that the number of fires identified in the vicinity of Bunge and Cargill facilities was higher than all the other main soy traders combined.  Similarly, in cattle, JBS alone had 317,096 fires inside its buying area, triple what the next largest fire-linked company had. The findings echoed Mighty Earth’s mapping analysis from 2019.

In Bolivia, where Cargill is the leading international soy trader, the company has been tied to repeated deforestation, with similar results for Cargill and Bunge in Argentina and Paraguay, respectively. These companies have also been linked to irresponsible labor practices, endangering workers during the coronavirus crisis with unsafe working conditions even as their practices around the globe make the next pandemic more likely.

Resources:

High resolution photos and videos are available for use – please contact [email protected] for access.

Mighty Earth reports

Additional materials


Big Meat Companies Are Making the Pandemic Worse

As the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc with the meat supply chain, Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz released the following statement:

"In the midst of a global crisis, the meat industry continues to pack people and animals into factories, fueling the spread of the current pandemic and making the next one more likely. The industry’s dangerous behavior and poor planning have led to the slow suffocation of millions of animals, even as unsafe working conditions force workers to risk sickness and death to keep their jobs.

"The industry’s destruction is also playing out on an international scale. The big meat companies like JBS and Cargill have driven the bulldozing and burning of the Amazon and other forests in South America to expand the area dedicated to raising cattle and planting crops to feed them. In addition to driving mass extinctions and accelerating climate change, this deforestation risks bringing humans into contact with dangerous new diseases. These tropical forest fires also overload health care facilities with new cases of respiratory problems and cause hundreds of thousands of premature deaths under normal circumstances. Allowing these practices to continue only further endangers people whose lungs have been damaged by the coronavirus.

"Supermarkets like Costco, Ahold Delhaize, Casino, and more must end their complicity and stop sending hundreds of millions of dollars in supplier contracts to companies like Cargill and JBS that are acting in such a cruel and reckless manner."


In 2020, Retailers Must Stop Stocking Environmental Destruction

When customers go grocery shopping, they expect to find quality products that will feed their families and are produced in legal and responsible ways. Yet many supermarkets are buying products from some of the most environmentally destructive suppliers on the planet. Leading retailers are stocking meat from JBS, Tyson, and Cargill, all of which have long track records of environmental destruction and human rights abuses- from destruction of tropical forests and indigenous communities across Latin America to water pollution and soil erosion causing a massive Dead Zone in the Gulf. Supermarkets largely dictate the kinds of food that people have access to, and their buying decisions can therefore mean the difference between healthy ecosystems and ecological destruction. 

Supermarket retailers have spent decades building trust in the communities they serve. But their willingness to turn a blind eye to pollution and deforestation now threatens the customer trust that is core to success. In fact, 81 percent of respondents in a recent poll said that knowing about a company’s environmentally irresponsible business practices would make them less likely to purchase their products.

With the global environment in a state of deep crisis, Mighty Earth is calling for supermarkets to implement robust policies around deforestation, native ecosystem clearing, regenerative farming and water pollution, and to drop contracts with the worst offenders like Cargill. Mighty Earth’s 2020 campaign to hold these retailers accountable is off to an exciting start. 

National Retail Federation

On January 11, the National Retail Federation held the opening ball to its annual “Big Show.” With 38,000 retail professionals in attendance, this trade show is quite literally the largest retail conference on the planet. Mighty Earth volunteers in New York City took the opportunity to call on Stop & Shop and parent company Ahold Delhaize to cut contracts with Cargill, taking center stage at the opening banquet and engaging conference participants in a variety of creative ways.

A video of their speech can be found here:

Costco Shareholder Meeting

Costco is so big that the sourcing decisions made there can literally move entire markets and shape whole industries. Costco brands itself as an eco-conscious company suitable for families who value protecting the planet- yet all the while selling products that do just the opposite. According to Bloomberg research, Costco’s top suppliers include JBS, Cargill, and Tyson- while tissue paper sold through the Charmin, Bounty, and Kirkland brand is made from 100% virgin fiber sourced from Canada’s Boreal forests. 

Together with NRDC, SumOfUs, and Stand.Earth, we attended Costco’s shareholder meeting to call on Costco to adopt strong sustainability policies that ban destruction of native forests and require sustainable agricultural practices throughout its supply chain.

At the shareholder meeting, we turned up with over a dozen volunteers who rallied on the sidewalk, distributed literature, and highlighted Costco’s record to hundreds of shareholders as they drove in. Some of the volunteers even got creative and put up a light projection on the outside of the shareholder meeting. More than 100,000 people have signed petitions over the past year calling on Costco to protect forests, which we delivered to Costco’s CEO.

Stop & Shop

Stop & Shop, a popular East Coast supermarket chain owned by parent company Ahold Delhaize, has also been feeling the heat for its business partnerships with Cargill that are funding widespread destruction of tropical forests and pollution of American waterways. While claiming to be committed to sustainability, Stop & Shop recently signed a contract with Cargill to open a meat processing facility that will supply poultry to Stop & Shop stores.

Mighty Earth partnered with Green Corps to lead a hard-hitting campaign in Stop & Shop home state of Massachusetts. Field organizers have hit the ground running- educating shoppers, gathering petitions, and hosting community events to call on Stop & Shop to cut ties with Cargill and to adopt strict sustainability policies banning destruction of native forests and requiring more sustainable farming practices for all their meat suppliers. 

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