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.
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world’s second largest beef exporter, saw its $90 million loan from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation withdrawn.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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
MINIMUM CRITERIA FOR INDUSTRIAL SCALE CATTLE OPERATIONS
IN THE BRAZILIAN AMAZON BIOME
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.
1. ZERO DEFORESTATION IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN:
No new deforestation for cattle ranching will be accepted after 4 October
a) Within a period of six months after the signing of the commitment to
adopt these criteria, COMPANIES commit to proving, in a manner that
can be monitored, verified and reported, that no rural property which
directly supplies cattle for slaughtering (fattening farms) and is engaged in
deforestation in the Amazon biome after the reference date of this
agreement, is on its supplier list.
b) Within a period of two years after the signing of the commitment to adopt
these criteria, COMPANIES commit to proving, in a manner that can be
monitored, verified and reportable, that none of their indirect suppliers
(such as rearing and nursery farms involved in the COMPANIES’ supply
chain) engaged in deforestation of the Amazon biome after the
reference date of this agreement, is on the supplier list.
c) Within a period of six months, the COMPANY will reassess, together with
Greenpeace and other stakeholders, the deadlines related to indirect
suppliers quoted on item 1.b.
d) Rural properties in the Amazon biome where deforestation is proven to be
taking place after the reference date of this agreement will be excluded
from the COMPANY’s list of suppliers and will only be accepted again
after they have proved environmental damages have been repaired, have signed the Terms of Adjustment of Conduct (TAC), any applicable
fines have been paid and can provide evidence of complying with
current environmental legislation into force, including complying with the
one related to land tenure.
2. REJECTION OF INVASION OF INDIGENOUS LANDS AND PROTECTED AREAS:
COMPANIES and their products must be free from involvement in the invasion of
indigenous lands and protected areas under federal, State or municipal law.
a) Farms accused by the Public Prosecution Office (MPF) or FUNAI (the
National Agency dealing with Indigenous Issues) of invading Indigenous
lands; which are included in the list of properties embargoed by IBAMA
(the Brazilian Environmental Agency); or which have been fined by State
or Federal authorities for invading protected areas, will be removed from
the COMPANIES’ list of suppliers, at the moment in which the COMPANY
becomes well aware of the facts. Those farms will only be accepted
again after they have proved environmental damages have been
repaired, have signed a Terms of Adjustment of Conduct (TAC), any
applicable fines have been paid and can provide evidence of complying
with current legislation established by the Ministry of Labour (MTE), the
Public Prosecution Office (MPF), FUNAI, IBAMA, and others.
3. REJECTION OF SLAVERY WORK:
COMPANIES must sign and comply strictly with the National Pact against Slave
a) Farms engaged in slavery will be excluded from the COMPANIES’ list of
suppliers, at the moment in which the COMPANY becomes aware of the
facts, for a two-year period and will only be accepted again after
providing evidence of complying with current legislation established by
the Ministry of Labour (MTE) and by the Public Prosecution Office (MPF).
4. REJECTION OF LAND GRABBING AND LAND CONFLICTS:
a) The COMPANY will remove from its list of suppliers (direct and indirect), at
the moment in which the COMPANY becomes aware of the facts, those
producers accused of land grabbing by the Public Prosecution Office
(MPF) or by the relevant land authorities of Federal or State Governments,
or those convicted of involvement in land conflicts based on the
accusations of the Public Prosecution. Those farms will only be accepted
again after they have signed the Terms of Adjustment of Conduct (TAC)
or if the accusation has been dropped.
5. A MONITORABLE, VERIFIABLE AND REPORTABLE TRACKING SYSTEM:
Cattle and by-products shall only be supplied by farms or groups who have
formally committed to adopting a trustworthy tracking system which, apart from
meeting current demands – such as those established by the SISBOV system
currently in place, also includes clear environmental criteria aimed at putting an
end to deforestation.
a) Within the periods established in item 1.a) and 1.b) of this agreement,
COMPANIES must obtain from their direct and indirect suppliers
geographically-referenced polygons of rural properties taken with GPS
equipments at an adequate scale, with clear definition of their limits and
areas of use and non-use, together with recent satellite imagery of the
b) COMPANIES will have to confirm that direct and indirect suppliers have
their rural properties registered within six months and/or be in possession of
the corresponding environmental permit in 24 months, which must be
issued by State or Federal government, as long as there is no impediment
of doing so due to the actions of third parties.
c) Within a period which must not exceed five years, COMPANIES will only
accept as suppliers those rural producers who are able to prove they are
in possession of legal land titles. All properties must present satellite
imagery and geographically-referenced polygons taken with GPS
equipments, showing the areas of use, legal reserve (RL) and protected
d) COMPANIES must prove, in a way that can be monitored, verified and
reported, the origin of all cattle products and by-products by means of
reliable and internationally accepted tracking systems. They must also be
able to prove that deforestation, slavery, invasion of indigenous lands and
protected areas are not part of their supply chain.
e) COMPANIES must prove they have complied with the commitments in this
document through an independent, respectable and internationally
accepted auditing system.
6. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SUPPLY CHAIN COMMITMENTS:
COMPANIES must inform their suppliers of all above requirements and must make
clear that those which are not in accordance with these criteria will not be
accepted as suppliers. A commission shall be constituted for monitoring and
following-up the protocol hereafter signed with the aim of analyzing, studying
and correcting the path of the sector towards the goal of zero deforestation.
With these aims, the commission will meet every month with representatives of
the cattle sector, NGOs, clients, financial system and government.
PDF version of the agreement