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Brazilian beef giants agree to moratorium on Amazon deforestation

Four of the world’s largest cattle producers and traders have agreed to a moratorium on buying cattle from newly deforested areas in the Amazon rainforest, reports Greenpeace.

JBS-Friboi, Bertin, Minerva and Marfrig will implement certification and monitoring systems to ensure that beef and leather in their supply chains is not being produced as a result of new forest clearing. The companies also agreed to ban buying of cattle from ranches using slave labor or illegally occupying protected areas and indigenous reserves.

JBS-Friboi is the world’s largest beef producer and global exporter of processed beef; Bertin is the world’s largest leather exporter and Brazil’s second-largest beef exporter; Minerva is Brazil’s third largest beef exporter; Marfrig is the world’s fourth largest beef producer.

The agreement is significant because cattle ranching is the single largest driver of Amazon destruction: 80 percent of deforested land ends up as cattle pasture. Ranching is also Brazil’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is an important step in the fight to stop the destruction of one of the world’s most critical rainforests and vital to helping tackle climate change,” said Paulo Adario, Greenpeace Amazon campaign director.

The agreement [the text of which follows the “Related articles” section at the bottom of the post] is partly a response to the fallout from a report Greenpeace published in June. The report linked some of the world’s best known consumer product brands to illegal Amazon rainforest felling. Days after the report was released, Brazil’s biggest domestic beef buyers, supermarket chains Wal-Mart, Carrefour, and Pão de Açúcar, announced they would suspend contracts with suppliers found to be involved in Amazon deforestation. Bertin, the world’s second largest beef exporter, saw its $90 million loan from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation withdrawn. Investigators raided the offices of JBS, the world’s largest beef processor, and other firms, arresting executives for corruption, fraud, and collusion. And a Brazilian federal prosecutor filed a billion-dollar law suit against the cattle industry for environmental damage, warning that firms found to be marketing tainted meat will be subject to fines of 500 reais ($260) per kilo. BNDES, the development bank that accounts for most financing for the agricultural sector in Brazil, announced it would reform its lending policies, making loans contingent on environmental performance.

These developments virtually ensured that the industry would have to establish better monitoring and verfication systems for their supply chains. Now the question is whether these systems will be credible enough to appease buyers, regulators, and environmental pressure groups.

Related articles

Concerns over deforestation may drive new approach to cattle ranching in the Amazon

(09/08/2009) While you’re browsing the mall for running shoes, the Amazon rainforest is probably the farthest thing from your mind. Perhaps it shouldn’t be. The globalization of commodity supply chains has created links between consumer products and distant ecosystems like the Amazon. Shoes sold in downtown Manhattan may have been assembled in Vietnam using leather supplied from a Brazilian processor that subcontracted to a rancher in the Amazon. But while demand for these products is currently driving environmental degradation, this connection may also hold the key to slowing the destruction of Earth’s largest rainforest.

Brazil’s development bank to require beef-tracking system to avoid illegal Amazon deforestation

(07/01/2009) Responding to allegations that major Brazilian cattle producers are responsible for illegal forest clearing in the Amazon, Brazil’s development bank BNDES will soon require processors to trace the origin of beef back to the ranch where it was produced in order to qualify for loans, reports Brazil’s Agencia Estado. The traceability program aims to ensure that cattle products do not come from illegally deforested land.

Wal-Mart bans beef illegally produced in the Amazon rainforest

(06/12/2009) Brazil’s three largest supermarket chains, Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Pão de Açúcar, will suspend contracts with suppliers found to be involved in Amazon deforestation, reports O Globo. The decision, announced at a meeting of the Brazilian Association of Supermarkets (Abras) this week, comes less than two weeks after Greenpeace’s exposé of the Amazon cattle industry. The report, titled Slaughtering the Amazon, linked some of the world’s most prominent brands — including Nike, Toyota, Carrefour, Wal-Mart, and Johnson & Johnson, among dozens of others — to destruction of the Amazon rainforest for cattle pasture.
Nike, Unilever, Burger King, IKEA may unwittingly contribute to Amazon destruction, says Greenpeace

(06/01/2009) Major international companies are unwittingly driving the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest through their purchases of leather, beef and other products supplied from the Brazil cattle industry, alleges a new report from Greenpeace. The report, Slaughtering the Amazon, is based on a three-year undercover investigation of the Brazilian cattle industry, which accounts for 80 percent of Amazon deforestation and roughly 14 percent of the world’s annual forest loss. Greenpeace found that Brazilian beef companies are important suppliers of raw materials used by leading global brands, including Adidas/Reebok, Nike, Carrefour, Eurostar, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Toyota, Honda, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, IKEA, Kraft, Tesco and Wal-Mart, among others.


The following criteria apply to all agribusiness companies operating within the
Brazilian Amazon biome, hereafter referred to as COMPANIES, and for all and
any property which supplies COMPANIES with cattle, including beef, leather and
other cattle by-products. These criteria must be met as pre-conditions to any
purchase or commercial contract and in all relevant operations of the
COMPANIES, their affiliates and subsidiaries. The criteria shall not be used to justify
future deforestation of any kind in any other region.


No new deforestation for cattle ranching will be accepted after 4 October

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