Supreme Court Must Hold Cargill and Nestle Accountable for Child Slavery

Today, lawyers representing former child slaves working in cocoa will argue before the U.S. Supreme Court in Nestlé USA, Inc. v. John Doe I and Cargill, Inc. v. John Doe I. Six children who were trafficked, enslaved and forced to harvest cocoa for the cocoa industry first sued Nestle and Cargill in 2005 under the Alien Tort Statute. After the Court of Appeals ruled for the second time that the case could move forward, the companies appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

Last night, Mighty Earth staged a protest to help put Cargill’s abuses on the spotlight. Volunteers gathered in front of the Supreme Court and projected the message “Cargill is GUILTY”. 

Today, in advance of oral arguments, Mighty Earth Campaign Director Etelle Higonnet released the following statement:

“Nestle and Cargill’s request to the Supreme Court is as simple as it is audacious: they are demanding immunity from international law for human rights violations. Rather than work to stop child slavery, Nestle and Cargill want legal immunity to continue profiting from it. If these companies win their case, it would set a dangerous precedent undermining the rule of law.

“The Roberts Court has long been a friend to big business, but is it really about to endorse an effort to legalize child slavery for corporations?

“As Americans rose up to protest for racial justice this year, Cargill CEO Dave MacLennan put out a statement purporting to ‘stand with all who have spoken up to say Black lives matter.’ Unfortunately, lip service to justice movements has been easier to deploy than meaningful efforts to definitively end child slavery and address other horrors in the company’s massive supply chain, including labor abuses, rampant deforestation, and the reckless use of dangerous pesticides that can be particularly harmful to the health of children still unjustly employed in cocoa.

“We call on Cargill and Nestle to abandon these harmful legal arguments for corporate impunity and establish meaningful, independent monitoring and certification systems that ensure no cocoa tied to social or environmental abuses enters their supply chains.”

Additional Resources

Joint Op-ed: France's Promise to End Deforestation is Endangered

This week, Mighty Earth published a joint op-ed with the French environmental organizations Canopée, Envol Vert, France Nature Environnement, Greenpeace France, Friends of the Earth France, Notre Affaire à Tous, Sherpa, and WWF France. The op-ed discussed the challenges and opportunities for France to live up to national promises of ending imported deforestation. Marking the 2 year anniversary of France's commitment to a National Strategy on Imported Deforestation (Stratégie nationale de lutte contre la déforestation importee, or SNDI), this op-ed lays out a clear path to success.

The group of environmental associations denounces shortcomings in the implementation of the SNDI, and warns that in a few weeks, the commitment made by France in 2015 to help eliminate deforestation linked to the production of agricultural raw materials by 2020, will be at risk of having officially failed. Published in November 2018, SNDI placed France in a pioneering position in the fight against imported deforestation. Two years on, the lack of concrete changes on the ground constitute a cause for alarm, particularly in light of ongoing deforestation, worsening climate change, and deepening biodiversity loss.

After two years of status quo or incremental progress – often led by French industry and NGOs – it is urgent that the government finally act decisively. The SNDI cannot be based solely on the addition of voluntary commitments from companies. France must ensure the SNDI is concretely respected across the board, including by enforcing the law on the new “duty of vigilance” law. This means first and foremost ensuring that each company subject to the law, develops a specific action plan against imported deforestation. Second, the government must stop blocking proposals by parliamentarians regarding the exclusion of all palm oil and soybean products in biofuels. Third, the government must expedite setting up a solid mechanism for traceability and risk management, accelerate the transition to protein autonomy, and even develop actions in favor of reducing our meat consumption. Finally, a historic opportunity exists for 2021: to support the European Commission proposing ambitious and binding legislation to put an end to imported deforestation in the EU, based on increased transparency and corporate vigilance obligations.

Now is the time to clearly address the shortcomings of the SNDI, move from words to action, and rapidly make up for lost time to finally put an end to France's complicity in deforestation.

Major Supermarkets in France Commit to Fighting Soy-Driven Deforestation: Our Reaction

Major Supermarkets in France Commit to Fighting Soy-Driven Deforestation: Our Reaction

November 18, 2020

Almost all supermarkets in France – Carrefour, Casino, Auchan, Lidl, Metro, Système U, Mousquetaires and Leclerc – have announced measures to end the use of soy produced on deforested land today. While we welcome this important step, it is insufficient unless the government ensures these commitments are fulfilled and tightens up the rules that apply to all economic players in the supply chain.

To mark two years of the National Strategy to fight Imported Deforestation (Stratégie Nationale de lutte contre la Déforestation Importée, SNDI), seven large retailers have just announced that they are going to include non-deforestation clauses for soy in their suppliers’ contractual conditions. In particular, the supermarkets are demanding that their suppliers stop using soy from recently deforested land in the Cerrado, which is the main region in Brazil being deforested for soy production.

Every year, France imports more than two million tonnes of soy from Brazil for animal feed (poultry, pork, dairy products). Soy consumption in France is responsible for the worst impacts on forests and native ecosystems.

The supermarkets’ announcement is significant but not sufficient, explains Klervi Le Guenic, Canopée’s campaign officer: “The supermarkets’ manifesto sends a very strong market signal, but to go beyond mere words, this voluntary measure needs to be rapidly transformed into consistent action plans. Lidl, Système U and Auchan have already done this; the others now need to pick up on this positive dynamic. We will publish an analysis of the supermarkets’ different commitments soon.

According to Etelle Higonnet, senior campaign director with Mighty Earth: “French supermarkets are finally listening to their customers’ concerns and leading an industry-wide effort to clean up the entire French soy supply chain¹. But a few key companies failed thus far to join the Manifesto. The elephants in the room are soy traders Cargill and Bunge, who have the power to stop importing deforestation-tainted soy. We’re also waiting for soy traders like COFCO and Louis Dreyfus to join, as their deforestation footprint is much lower than Cargill’s and Bunge. If they don’t, French companies should suspend contracts with them as soon as January 1st 2021.”

We are calling on all soy traders, and all businesses that use soy for animal feed, meat and dairy production including restaurants and food companies to sign the manifesto.

A fundamental condition for success is that the government seize these corporate commitments to strengthen the due diligence obligations for all companies. In September 2020, Canopée published a report under the auspices of the Scientific and Technical Council about putting an end to imports of soya that entailed a risk of deforestation². The manifesto we have signed today represents a continuation of this work and a demand for it to be implemented faster, as Sylvain Angerand, co-author of the report, explains: “It has become clear that the national strategy to fight imported deforestation has reached an impasse, due to a lack of resources, significant political trade-offs and over-reliance on voluntary commitments. This manifesto puts the ball firmly in the government’s court: the technical solutions exist, and stakeholders are ready to commit. What is needed now is to build on this dynamic to create a stricter framework for all businesses, particularly those that are subject to the law of due diligence but have not adopted any serious measures whatsoever to fight imported deforestation.”

¹More than 9 out of 10 French people support strong, specific action to fight deforestation.

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:


Climate Finance Day: Financial Actors Called to Act Against Soy-Related Deforestation

Lire en français

Briefing by Canopée Forests Vivantes, Mighty Earth, Reclaim Finance and SumOfUs

PARIS -- Hundreds of financial players meeting today at the Palais Brongniart in Paris for Climate Finance Day (1) will be welcomed by NGO activists calling on them to stop being complicit in the misdeeds linked to soy production in Brazil. In a note outlining the devastating impacts of the sector on climate and biodiversity, they set out the measures to be adopted by banks, insurers and investors to force traders to change their practices and ensure "zero deforestation" of soya.

"We are here to warn about the impacts of soy cultivation, one of the main causes of deforestation in South America. Driven by the demand for the meat and dairy products we consume, its production has more than doubled in 10 years. This has dramatic consequences on certain ecosystems such as the Cerrado" says Klervi Le Guenic, campaign officer at Canopée Forêts Vivantes.

The Cerrado is now the frontier for the expansion of soy cultivation and one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet. 50% of its original area has already been destroyed. Its disappearance would be a disaster for the climate and biodiversity as it stores the equivalent of 13.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) and is home to 5% of the world's biodiversity.

"The protection of forests and biodiversity is becoming a major concern for financial players, at least in their speeches. In reality, their policies to prevent the impacts of deforestation and conversion of natural ecosystems are deficient if not simply lacking. Today, we are calling on them to go beyond the principles of intention to adopt concrete and specific measures to stop the conversion of natural ecosystems in Brazil" adds Lucie Pinson, founder and director of Reclaim Finance.

As shown in a note published today by Canopée Forests Vivantes, Mighty Earth, Reclaim Finance and SumOfUs, the key to the problem lies in the respect of "zero deforestation" commitments by soy traders and in particular by 4 companies that control 56% of the world soy trade: ABCD or ADM (for Archer Daniels Midland), Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus. 9 NGOs wrote to 11 French financial actors in September to call on them to make their financial services to traders conditional on compliance with three measures (2), including a halt to the marketing of soya from land converted before January 1 2020.

"Cargill and Bunge are two of the three major soybean companies that are destroying forests and other ecosystems in Brazil. Without conditioning financial services to these companies on a zero-deforestation policy and practice, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, BPCE and other financial institutions risk being complicit in this destruction and face the "Devoir de Vigilance" law" said Etelle Higonnet, Campaign Director at Mighty Earth.

"Only five financial actors have responded to our letter, and while some have indicated a willingness to do more on soya, none have committed to cutting off services to traders who continue their destructive practices. The first victims of soya are the local and indigenous populations. They cannot be with us today because of the health crisis, but we are determined to provide them with our international support for as long as it is needed" concludes Leyla Larbi, SumOfUs' Campaigner.

Download the note « SOJA ET DÉFORESTATION : les acteurs financiers ne doivent plus être complices »
from Reclaim Finance

Media contacts and/or will be present at Climate Finance Day
- Lucie Pinson, founder and CEO of Reclaim Finance, [email protected], 06 79 54 37 15 - Will be
present at Climate Finance Day
- Nico Muzi, Europe Director of Mighty Earth, [email protected], 0032 484 27 87 91
- Klervi Le Guenic, Campaigner at Canopée Forêts Vivantes, [email protected], 07 52 64 08 54
- Leyla Larbi, SumOfUs Campaigner, [email protected], 07 50 96 01 30

(2) Read the letter and the responses from French financial players:

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.

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

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. 

Additional Resources: 

Ranking Soy Traders' Performance on Deforestation

Soy production in Brazil continues to be a major driver of deforestation and land conversion. In 2018 alone, over 2.9 million hectares of deforestation were cleared – an area the size of Albania - of which over 60 percent was due to commodity production. Within the soy industry, only a handful of traders dominate the industry with six companies accounting for over half of all soy exports. Moreover, none of the largest traders have successfully implemented zero deforestation or zero conversion supply chains, continuing to contribute to the mounting land conversion in Brazil.

Mighty Earth's new report examines the sustainability policies and performance of six of the largest soy traders (Louis Dreyfus Company, Archer-Daniels-Midland Company, Amaggi, COFCO International, Cargill, and Bunge) to determine which traders have the most – and least – land impacts and land rights violations in their supply chain. The analysis is intended to illustrate to buyers, including consumer goods manufacturers and retailers, that certain traders offer less risk and less environmental and social impacts compared to their peers.

Compared to the worst performing traders, their better performing peers are viable alternatives to which buyers can transfer their contracts in order to avoid being complicit in widespread ecological destruction and land grabbing at the expense of local and Indigenous communities.

Read the full report here.


Overall Scores


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!

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


Study Shows Ahold Delhaize, Casino, Metro and Other European Supermarkets Are Driving Destruction of the Amazon

A new peer-reviewed analysis published in Science magazine shows that one-fifth of Brazil’s soy exports to the EU may be linked to illegal deforestation. Mighty Earth Senior Director Alex Armstrong released the following statement in response:

"A new study in Science clearly shows that supermarkets and other food suppliers in Europe are fueling the ecological destruction of Latin America, from the Amazon to the Cerrado. As much as 22 percent of the soy exported from Brazil to Europe is the result of illegal deforestation, with even greater amounts coming from legally cleared land.

"But, tellingly, the bulk of the destruction is coming from a few bad actors. The researchers found that only two percent of the farms accounted for a whopping 62 percent of the deforestation. That means that European supermarkets have a responsibility to stop purchasing from these guilty companies.

“One of these hotspots is the municipality Formosa do Rio Preto, the area with the most deforestation risk exporting to Europe according to Trase. Bunge alone is responsible for over fifty percent of exports from this area, while France and Germany account for nearly a third of the market for this risky soy.

"Ahold Delhaize, Casino, Metro, and others must immediately cancel or renegotiate contracts with the companies driving the destruction of the Amazon."

Cargill Hides its Deforestation Impacts in Misleading Report

By: Asha Sharma

As yet another company distances itself from Cargill, the agribusiness giant has attempted to satiate its customers’ demands for reform with a new, deceptive report. Cargill’s 2020 Soy Progress Report Mid-Year Update touts the company’s progress mapping its Brazilian supply chain for soybeans and calculating the share of its soy grown on deforestation- and conversion-free land. However, an analysis by Mighty Earth mapping and supply chain experts has found that Cargill’s accounting methods are both grossly inaccurate and intentionally misleading.

Key problems we identified with the report are:

  • Overstating the percentage of Cargill soy that is deforestation and conversion free (DCF). Cargill claims that 95.68 percent of its soy volumes qualify, but uses data too vague and generic to actually attribute DCF sourcing to its farms. Independent reports from organizations like Trase have found Cargill to have the second highest deforestation risk in Brazil out of all soy exporters. Cargill cannot claim that any of their soy is deforestation-free until more improvements are made in their supply chain traceability, transparency and monitoring efforts.
  • Ignoring Critical Role of Cargill’s Indirect Suppliers. Cargill claims that is has mapped 100 percent of its suppliers. In truth, this statement covers only the company’s direct suppliers, which account for just 69 percent of the total supply chain. The information Cargill did collect about indirect suppliers only includes the “points of procurement,” i.e., where they bought the soy from. These locations can be silos or other aggregation points and are, in terms of monitoring for deforestation, entirely useless information.
  • Exaggerating the Accuracy of Cargill’s Mapping. Cargill admits in the report that it has only single-mapped the suppliers. Single-point mapping shows generally where a farm is located, but it is not useful information for a comprehensive monitoring effort. A single point on a map can hardly encapsulate the full scale of some of these soy plantations, which can stretch for thousands of kilometers. This style of mapping is therefore insufficient for making claims of being deforestation and conversion free. In order for a monitoring system to accurately track deforestation, it must document the full boundaries of properties for both direct and indirect suppliers in its supply chain.
  • Sweeping Other Important Issues Under the Rug. Cargill did not report on any other impacts of its deforestation, including illegal clearance, clearance on Indigenous and community lands, or use of fires – but the company is known to have impacts in all of these areas. Ignoring these issues does nothing to mitigate their destruction.

Cargill has long prioritized press releases and public relations strategies over tackling the thorny issues that have earned them the reputation as the “Worst Company in the World.” And while they dither, forests continue to burn. Supermarkets like Costco, Ahold Delhaize, and Casino must demand true accountability and action from Cargill or find another business partner, because people around the around the world expect better from the brands they trust.

Another Major Company Drops Cargill over Deforestation Concerns

IntraFish reports that “Global salmon giant Grieg Seafood has excluded Cargill Aqua Nutrition from the proceeds of its $92 million green bond until its parent company Cargill has significantly reduced its soy-related deforestation risk in Brazil.” In response to the news, Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz released the following statement:

"Cargill’s recklessness has destroyed forests, fueled climate change, displaced Indigenous communities, and imperiled workers from vulnerable communities in its meat plants. But today, a new victim of Cargill's recklessness has emerged — Cargill itself.

"Norwegian salmon company Grieg Seafood has announced that it will exclude Cargill from its $92 million green bond, citing concerns about Cargill's ties to deforestation in Brazil. This news is just the latest blow to Cargill's bottom line, as a growing number of consumer-facing companies are unwilling to associate their hard-earned brands with Cargill's sullied reputation. Late last year, Nestlé announced it would cease purchases of Cargill's Brazilian soybeans over fears they were being grown on deforested land.

"Cargill has responded with the usual vague statements and commitments that never seem to find their way beyond a piece of paper. Major supermarket chains like Costco and Casino should take notice: Cargill hasn't changed, and doing business with deforesters is a liability that your customers will no longer accept."

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.


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

Mighty Earth reports

Additional materials

Grocery Stores Threatening Brazil Boycott Must Go Further to Truly Protect Forests

Leading international supermarkets recently wrote a letter to Brazilian lawmakers, threatening a boycott over a proposed law that would open up the Amazon to deforestation and exploitation. In response to the letter, Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz released the following statement:

"It's great to see supermarkets like Stop & Shop owner Ahold Delhaize stepping up and using their leverage as major buyers from Brazil to stop this terrible bill. These companies seem to understand that ongoing complicity in President Jair Bolsonaro's ecocide poses a severe danger to their reputations and brands. They are right. Nobody wants to go to their local grocery store and buy chicken or steak connected to the destruction of an ancient rainforest or the displacement of Indigenous peoples.

“But these companies shouldn’t need the threat of this legislation to act. Day in and day out, Stop & Shop is keeping suppliers like Cargill and JBS – the companies largely responsible for the destruction of the Amazon and other ecosystems – in business by buying their meat and feed.

"Until grocery stores start canceling contracts with the suppliers driving the burning of the Amazon, they remain complicit in the destruction. Their customers and the world expect these brands not just to call for action, but to act."

New Report: Pork giant Danish Crown linked to tropical deforestation

Every year, the Danish meat giant Danish Crown produces huge amounts of pork from pigs fed with soy that has come from deforested areas in South America. A new report from Rainforest Foundation Norway, Mighty Earth in the United States, and Forests of the World in Denmark charts the connection between Danish Crown’s soy imports and environmental destruction in South America. 

Denmark imports more than 1.7 million tons of soy every year to feed livestock, and about 53 percent of that soy is used as pig feed. 83 percent of these imports comes from South America, mainly Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. In these countries, the soy is often grown in areas where tropical forests have previously been cleared and burned.

Deforestation, which in 2019 led to a record number of forest fires in South America, is destroying the habitats of countless animal and plant species, emitting huge amounts of CO2, and depriving indigenous communities of their homes and livelihoods. Soy is one of the primary drivers of deforestation in South America.

The new report, titled “How the Sausage Gets Made,” documents the links between Danish Crown’s soy supply and regions in South America where soy-driven deforestation is occurring. It also calls out Danish Crown for failing to offer a guarantee that its soy has not caused deforestation and for sourcing from Cargill, a global agribusiness with a record of deforestation and ecological destruction so severe that Mighty Earth recently named it the “Worst Company in the World”. Rainforest Foundation Norway, Mighty Earth, and Forests of the World are calling on the company to ensure full traceability of soy in its forthcoming Action Plan for Responsible Soy.

“As Europe's largest pork producers, Danish Crown has a huge responsibility to ensure that the soy that goes into Danish Crown’s production is produced responsibly, said Forests of the World Campaign Director Gry Bossen. “As long as it does not know where the soy in its supply chain comes from, it cannot avoid being complicit in deforestation and violation of indigenous peoples' rights in South America. Danish Crown should clearly ensure that its demands and value chains from South America are deforestation-free."

“While other protein producers in the Norwegian salmon industry recognize that their responsibility goes beyond certified soy volumes for their own production, and demand that their suppliers commit to becoming deforestation-free in all operations, it is disappointing that a Danish meat giant like Danish Crown is setting the bar this low. They should prepare themselves for the future market and give their customers products without any links to deforestation. Certified soy volumes cannot guarantee that” says Ida Breckan Claudi, RFN.

“Danish Crown must be held responsible for the environmental destruction associated with its entire supply chain and partnerships with suppliers like Cargill..” said Mighty Earth Deputy Director Kristin Urquiza. “It is not enough for Danish Crown to pledge a commitment to sustainability. We need to see the company’s sustainability policies aggressively implemented on the ground. Consumers do not want to eat pork products linked to forest fires, tropical deforestation, and human rights abuses.”

90 percent of Danish pork products are exported to countries around the globe. Danish Crown is one of the largest exporters of pigs in the world and one of Europe's largest pork producers, slaughtering millions of pigs every year. Through a number of subsidiaries, including Tulip Ltd., Danish Crown markets its products in over 130 countries.

“Danish Crown cannot tell us the origin of the soy that goes into their pork products or where the soy that it sources comes from. As Danish Crown does not know the origin of its soy, the company cannot guarantee that its meat production is deforestation-free. It is crucial that Danish Crown ensures total traceability of soy, in order to guarantee that it is deforestation-free,” says Gry Bossen from Forests of the World.

For further information, please contact:

Ida Breckan Claudi, Regnskovsfonden, (+47) 47417174, [email protected]

Jonas Schmidt Hansen, Forests of the World: (+45) 26 25 82 08, [email protected]

Liviya James, Mighty Earth, (+1) 949.246.9808, [email protected]

Cargill's Uninspiring Climate Commitment

In response to Cargill's latest announcement regarding the company's contribution to climate change and its plans for emissions reductions, Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz released the following statement:

"Cargill has once again demonstrated its penchant for generating nice headlines with positive sounding but substance-less commitments.

"Cargill is finally recognizing that a trader’s impact is in what they trade – and Cargill is trading in unsustainable and environmentally destructive goods. But announcing ill-defined and unenforceable less-than-half measures is meaningless.

"Cargill's track record does not inspire confidence that today's announcement will lead to tangible results. As with its commitment earlier this year to spend $30 million on a to-be-determined strategy to fight deforestation, the company's spokespeople have admitted that they do not know how to implement this commitment.

"And like Cargill's pledge to eliminate deforestation from key supply chains by 2020, successful implementation is a less likely outcome than another pained acknowledgement that they will fail to meet the goal.

"Cargill keeps saying they want to do something. They've articulated the 'want' but not the 'something.'"

To Address Deforestation in Brazil, Mighty Earth Convenes Meeting Between Indigenous Leaders and Consumer Goods Forum

Deforestation in Brazil is a threat to ecosystems like the rainforests of the Amazon and the savannahs of the Cerrado. And the same economic forces that drive their destruction also trample on the rights and the lives of the Indigenous peoples who live there. Mighty Earth believes that we must break the link between ecological destruction and economic growth and that the voices of Indigenous peoples must be an integral part of that effort.

To that end, we were honored to convene a meeting between representatives from Brazilian Indigenous Peoples Articulation (APIB), a national coalition and the voice of the Indigenous movement in Brazil, and the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a global network of more than 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and other stakeholders across 70 countries.

“The Indigenous peoples of the Amazon, like Indigenous peoples throughout the world, have protected the lands in which they live for millennia,” said Mat Jacboson, Senior Director for Forests at Mighty Earth. “It is critical that their voices be included in discussions about sustainability, and that their rights be protected in law and policy. We are honored to have been able to assist in the initiation of a dialogue between APIB and the Consumer Goods Forum.”