Tesco has called on the UK government to order food companies to ensure that all food sold in the UK is free from deforestation. The move follows a new Greenpeace campaign calling on the supermarket to cut ties with JBS, the world’s largest meat company, over its alleged links to farms implicated in deforestation in the Amazon.
The supermarket says the UK should introduce due diligence into supply chains to monitor deforestation. Germany is also evaluating a supply chain due diligence law, reportedly backed by Angela Merkel. And more than half of Britons would consider rejecting meat products linked to deforestation, a YouGov poll for Greenpeace found.
“Today we call on our government to mandate food companies, as part of its national food strategy, to introduce effective due diligence across all supply chains to ensure that all food sold in the UK is free from deforestation, ”Tesco Group chief executive Dave Lewis said in a statement. “We are making tangible progress, but we cannot solve this problem alone.”
But Tesco has said that although it has been blocking sales of Brazilian meat since 2018, it will not write off two meat suppliers owned by JBS. JBS has said it is determined to end deforestation throughout its supply chain.
With deforestation skyrocketing under far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and the Amazon fires in July up 28% year-over-year, scientists believe the Amazon is getting closer to its “tipping point”, in which case it begins to die and dry up, with catastrophic impacts on the global climate.
“Cattle ranching is the main driver of deforestation in the Amazon,” said Anna Jones, forestry manager at Greenpeace UK, describing the world’s largest rainforest as “a great beating ecosystem that helps regulate the climate. and plays a role in climate stability ”.
JBS has been linked to farms involved in deforestation in the Amazon five times in just over a year. Investor Nordea Asset Management removed the company from its portfolio.
In 2009, following a Greenpeace report exposing the role of Brazilian meat companies in deforestation in the Amazon, JBS and other Brazilian meat companies pledged to monitor their “indirect suppliers” by 2011.
Greenpeace said JBS is still “killing the Amazon” in a new report also released on Wednesday. “JBS continues to have a problem,” Jones said. “He doesn’t have full transparency.”
Greenpeace is also asking Tesco to halve the amount of meat sold by 2025. Its YouGov poll found that 26% of respondents believe supermarkets should sell less meat and 55% “would not consider buying meat. meat from companies that also buy meat in areas that were recently the Amazon rainforest. “
Tesco buys meat from two companies controlled by JBS, Moy Park and Tulip, Greenpeace said, which produce soy-raised pork and chicken. He did not say these companies have links in Amazon’s beef or soybean supply chain, but said 68% of the UK’s 3.2 million tonnes of annual soybean imports came from South America – a sixth of which is used by Tesco. Tesco has said it will ensure its soybeans come from verified zero deforestation areas by 2025.
About a fifth of the soybeans exported to the EU from Brazil’s Amazon and Cerrado regions – mostly for animal feed – and at least 17% of beef could come from deforested land, according to a new study published in Science.
“Lighting fires to clear land for crops or grazing destroys valuable habitats like the Brazilian rainforest. It must stop. This is why we support Greenpeace’s goal of preventing further deforestation in the Amazon, ”said a spokesperson for Tesco.
But the delisting of Moy Park and Tulip – which also supply Aldi, Co-op, Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose – “could lead to thousands of job losses, impact UK farmers and ultimately undermine our ability to deliver fresh British meat and chicken to our customers, ”Tesco said. “We recognize that the UK as a whole needs to reduce its consumption of meat and dairy products.”
In Brazil, a costly military operation to combat fires and deforestation was widely criticized as ineffective by local media, and the government was reluctant to admit it had a problem with deforestation.
“Brazil is one of the few countries in the world capable of producing and conserving,” Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias said Monday in a video speech to the Brazilian Agribusiness Association. “We have improved our livestock, reducing land use and increasing productivity.”
Responding to claims by Greenpeace that the company was indirectly sourcing livestock from farms in the Amazon implicated in deforestation, a spokesperson said: “All JBS subsidiaries adhere to strict responsible sourcing policies. all along their supply chains and share our commitment to permanently end deforestation. ”
“We have been at the forefront of the industry in taking steps to improve supply chain traceability in Brazil. We work closely with national and local government departments to develop solutions and system improvements around supply chain traceability and agricultural best practices to eradicate deforestation.
“JBS will continue to continuously evolve in new initiatives and plans in the coming months to promote meaningful change.”