Brazil’s largest cattle producers have agreed to standardize and make public their audits as part of an effort to exclude from their supply chains livestock produced via deforestation, reports Greenpeace, which has led a campaign to improve the environmental performance of the sector.
The agreement on a standard auditing protocol means that the companies’ progress toward eliminating deforestation will now be directly comparable. The companies — JBS, Marfrig and Minerva, which represent 60 percent of the Brazilian market — will also make the results of the audits public, improving transparency in the sector, according to Greenpeace.
“The slaughterhouses will also publish their plan to comply fully with the agreement they made, including milestones and deadlines. That way we – and their customers – can keep an eye on their progress,” said the activist group in a post on the Greenpeace UK blog. “Not only will everyone know if they are lagging behind, but we’ll know who is ahead of schedule – and companies are likely to buy more beef from slaughterhouses that are ahead of the game.”
The move is significant because cattle ranching is the single biggest driver of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, accounting for roughly two-thirds of forest clearing in recent decades. Cleaning up the sector has been notoriously difficult due to poor governance and widespread illegality. But a breakthrough came in 2009, when Greenpeace linked leather, beef, and other cattle products produced via deforestation to some of the world’s most prominent brands. Uproar from consumers and major consumer products companies, coupled with a crackdown by local authorities, forced Brazilian cattle giants to the negotiating table, where they eventually signed an agreement that would commit them to excluding livestock produced via deforestation and slave labor.
(08/22/2013) Around 40% of beef and 85% of leather production serve markets that are potentially sensitive to environmental concerns, providing a partial explantation as to why Brazilian producers have made recent commitments to reducing deforestation for cattle production, finds a new study published in Tropical Conservation Science.
(03/07/2013) Gucci has rolled out a collection of ‘zero-deforestation’ leather handbags. Each handbag comes with a ‘passport’ that provides the history of the product’s supply chain going back to the ranch that produced the leather. The line emerged out of concerns that leather in the fashion industry is contributing to deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, where roughly two-thirds of forest destruction is for cattle production.
(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.