Dozens of European food retailers on Wednesday threatened Brazil to boycott agricultural products if it passed a land reform bill they said would worsen deforestation.
An open letter coordinated by Retail Soy Group and sent to Brazil’s National Congress included signatures from UK supermarkets Asda, Sainsbury and Tesco, their German counterparts Aldi and Lidl as well as Co-op Switzerland.
Retail Soy Group had previously written to Brazilian politicians last year about similar land reform proposals which were later withdrawn, amended and resubmitted.
The new letter stated that there had been extremely high levels of wildfires and deforestation in Brazil over the past year, but targets for reducing them and budgets for enforcement were “increasing. inadequate ”.
“It is therefore extremely worrying that the same measure we responded to last year is again presented as the legislative proposal with potentially even greater threats to the Amazon than before,” the letter said.
Deforestation in Brazil has increased under the leadership of President Jair Bolsonaro, who has cut funding for environmental programs since taking office in 2019 and lobbied to open up protected lands to mining and agribusiness.
In the 12 months leading up to August 2020, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon increased by 9.5%, destroying an area larger than Jamaica, according to government data.
At a climate summit hosted by the United States last month, Bolsonaro reiterated his country for its previous goal of ending illegal deforestation by 2030.
But European food retailers said in their letter that the latest measures went “against the narrative and rhetoric” of Brazil at the summit.
And if the law is passed, the signatories “will have no choice but to reconsider … the support and use of the supply chain for Brazilian agricultural products.”
© 2021 AFP