A NEW REPORT FROM GREENPEACE International says the world’s largest meat processor JBS, and its leading competitors Marfrig and Minerva, slaughtered cattle purchased from ranchers linked to the 2020 fires that destroyed one-third of the world’s largest inland wetland, in the Pantanal region of Brazil. The Brazilian meat giants in turn supply Pantanal beef to food companies like McDonald’s, Burger King, French groups Carrefour and Casino, and markets across the world.
“Fire blazes the way for industrial meat expansion across South America. In the face of the global Covid-19 pandemic and the biodiversity and climate crises, the continued deliberate use of fire within the sector is an international scandal. How to stamp it out is a burning issue,” said Daniela Montalto, Food and Forest campaigner at Greenpeace UK.
Making Mincemeat of the Pantanal documents 15 cattle ranchers who are linked to the 2020 Pantanal fires. At least 73,000 hectares – an area larger than Singapore – burned within the boundaries of properties owned by these ranchers. In 2018–2019, these ranchers supplied at least 14 meat processing facilities owned by JBS, Marfrig and Minerva. Nine of the ranchers were also linked to other environmental violations such as illegal clearing or property registration irregularities at the time of identified trade with the meat processors.
As Brazilian President Bolsonaro’s anti-environment agenda continues to wreak havoc on the Amazon rainforest, and amid the chaos and economic upheaval caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic, Brazil’s beef exports still set a new all-time high in 2020.
“The world’s largest wetland – a critical habitat for jaguars – is literally going up in smoke. By ignoring the destruction, JBS and the other leading meat processors, Marfrig and Minerva, are all but handing out the matches for this year’s fires”, said Daniela Montalto, Food and Forest campaigner at Greenpeace UK.
In January 2021, Greenpeace International alerted JBS, Marfrig and Minerva to the environmental and legal risks in their Pantanal supply base exemplified by these ranchers. These included not only connections to the extensive fires, but also cattle supplies from ranches sanctioned for illegal clearance or where property registrations were suspended or cancelled.
Despite Greenpeace’s findings, the meat processors asserted that all the ranches that had supplied them directly were compliant with their policy at the time of purchase. None of the meat processors gave any meaningful indication that it had reviewed its Pantanal supply base for deliberate use of fire. None indicated that it required ranchers to comply with its policy across their operations, despite Greenpeace findings of significant movement of cattle between operations owned by the same individual. Indeed, JBS has even publicly stated that it has no intention of excluding ranchers caught violating its decade-old commitments.
“The industrial beef sector is a liability. While promising to maybe someday save the Amazon, JBS and the other leading beef processors seem willing to butcher the Pantanal today, making mincemeat of their sustainability pledges. Importing countries, financiers and meat buyers like McDonald’s, Burger King or French groups Carrefour and Casino need to end their complicity with environmental destruction. Closing the market to forest destroyers is not enough, it is time to phase out industrial meat”, said Daniela Montalto, Food and Forest campaigner at Greenpeace UK.
* Read Making Mincemeat of the Pantanal here.
* Source: Greenpeace International