Brazil: NGO report alleges companies complicit in deforestation & human rights abuses in the Amazon

2019-complicity-in-destruction-2

[To read this story in Portuguese, please, click here]

The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre invited 55 companies to respond to allegations of their involvement in the deforestation of the Amazon as well as human rights abuses. The report from Amazon Watch and Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil-APIB (National Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil) , "Complicity in Destruction II: How northern consumers and financiers enable Bolsonaro's assault on the Brazilian Amazon", states that European and North American businesses that finance and source from Brazil are connected to the Brazilian government´s roll-back of socio-environmental standards that are fundamental to preserving the Amazon's ecological integrity and the well-being of indigenous people. The report analysed Brazilian companies that were fined for environmental crimes in the Amazon since 2017, and identified a range of northern commercial interests that do business with them. There are allegations that agribusiness companies operated in areas of indigenous land conflicts and extracted resources from protected areas.

The companies that responded to these allegations, and whose responses can be found below are the following: Acai GmbH Fine Fruits Club, ASR Group, ABN Amro, Azimut Group, Boa-Franc, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Brandes Investment Partners, Citigroup, Conceria Cristina, Crédit Agricole, Credit Suisse, Fidelity, Global Timber, HSBC, ING Group, JPMorgan Chase, Louis Dreyfus Company, Marfrig, Robinson Lumber Company, Storebrand, Tradelink, Rino Mastrotto Group, Van den Berg Hardhout and Vogel Import & Export. The responses from Argus Comercio e Exportação de Alimentos, Benevides Madeiras, Marfrig, and Minerva are available here in Portuguese. Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Bunge previously responded to these allegations here (also included below) and State Street and Vanguard declined to respond at that time. ADM, AgroSB, Argus Comercio e Exportação de Alimentos, Bunge, Cargill, Frigorífico Xingara, GWW Houtimport, JBS, and Nordisk Timber Eireli commented on the allegations in the Mongabay article below. Algar Agro, owner of ABC Inco and ABC Indústria e Comércio SA, Agro SB, Bunge, Cargill and Frigorifico Xingara commented on the allegations in the Epoca article in Portuguese here (and also below).

Bank of America, BlackRock, Brighton Collectibles, Capital Group, Conceria Cadore, ED&F Man, Faeda, Invesco, Santander, Thompson Mahogany Company and Vandecasteele Houtimport did not respond. Deutsche Bank, T.Rowe Price, Guillemette & Cie declined to respond. Agropecuária Rio da Areia, Groupe Rougier, Grupo BIHL: Agropecuária MALP & Frigorífico Redentor, Hoogendoorn Hout, Italpelli, JJ Samara Agronegócios Eireli, Keflico, Uniggel Proteção de Plantas, Usina Trapiche & Temape Group have not yet responded and we will add their responses if they reply in the near future. We were not able to reach Farm Credit Services or Northwest Hardwoods.

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Company response
6 September 2019

Response by Van den Berg Hardhout

Author: Van den Berg Hardhout & Nordisk

In response to the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre's invitation, Van den Berg Hardhout sent us the response they received from their timber supplier Nordisk, available below.

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Company response
31 July 2019

Conceria Cristina response

Author: Conceria Cristina

BHIL/Frigorifero Redentor Group is not a supplier of Conceria Cristina neither for a spot of business of 99 tons (2017-2018), and we don't even find them in our records.

A quantity of 99 tons any case represent less than 0,001% (of our supply chain in a year) in our yearly purchases. 

We are LWG rated company and we use preferential suppliers among LWG. We have requested, since 2000, to all our supplier a self declaration that they are not sourcing in MATO GROSSO AREA or in any AREA critical for deforestation issue.

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Company response
25 July 2019

Global Timber response

Author: Global Timber

...Global Timber is a global company who actively works to operate and maintain sustainable forestry. This means that trees must be felled legally, in accordance with international standards and in accordance with local regulations and legislation in our partner’s countries.   Our due diligence system ensures full transparency in the chain of custody and guarantees legality. This system is periodically monitored by the Danish authorities and organizations such as Danish Timber Trade Association and FSC, which we are active members of.

Regarding the situation from Brazil, we are concerned about the issues raised by organizations such as yours. We have reacted every time by strengthening our checks and asking our suppliers for explanations. Lately we have introduced a third-party verification from an independent local firm for every new chain of custody. We select our suppliers increasingly after criteria such as certification and business ethics.

The three suppliers named by Amazon Watch- Benevides Madeiras, Nordisk Timber Eireli and Tradelink Madeiras have all notices of infractions in the Ibama system, but please notice that many of them have not been subject of a judgment by the agency. Being under the presumption of innocence and having in the same time a license to operate issued by the same Ibama, they are operating legally. This is also the conclusion of FSC, which annually audits the operations of both Tradelink and Nordisk. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have valid certificates...

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Company response
24 July 2019

Rino Mastrotto Group response

Author: Rino Mastrotto Group

...Italian leather sector, in which Rino Mastrotto Group is one of the most representative company, has invested in the last decades great resources to minimize environmental impact of leather processes.  In the last ten years water, energy and chemicals consumptions has enormously decreased; even emissions in the atmosphere has been reduced (-38%).  Pollutants in industrial water are cut down of the 99% and about wastes, again in significant reduction, more than 70% is destined to recovery…We consider sustainability an essential value in our processes: minimizing environmental impact, privileging purchases from responsible sources and guarantees on social responsibility both towards workers long the chain and end consumers.  Regarding hides and skin purchasing, tanning sector is hardly internationalized and we import raw materials from all over the world.  Since many years Italian tanneries are committed to manage hides’ traceability, even through specific certification schemes which are having important acknowledgment from the market.  Recently UNIC, Italian Tanners’ Association, has promoted and ambitious project that, using advanced technologies, allows to manage information long the whole chain from livestock to tannery and to finished product.  This project has started from geographic areas where deforestation is much more significant…

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Article
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Author: Nícollas Witzel, Revista Época (Brazil)

“Entidade nacional divulga lista de 56 supostos infratores que inclui grandes empresas do agronegócio brasileiro”, 29 de abril de 2019

A Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (APIB)...divulgou, pela primeira vez,...relação de empresas estrangeiras que fizeram comércio com agentes do agronegócio brasileiro acusados de atuar em áreas de conflitos de terras indígenas e de extrair recursos de áreas protegidas, além de colecionar multas por danos ambientais...[A]...intenção da Apib é propor um boicote a esses negócios e, posteriormente, apresentar os dados ao Parlamento Europeu, cobrando providências...[O]...relatório analisa as principais multas por desmatamento ilegal cometidas por 56 empresas brasileiras, que foram cobradas pelo Ibama de 2017 a 2019. Foram identificadas 27 empresas estrangeiras importadoras de commodities fazendo negócios com madeireiras, frigoríficos e agricultores de soja, além de doações para partidos políticos ligados ao agronegócio...[C]onstam...[:]...Agropecuária Santa Barbara Xinguara (AgroSB), a Agropecuária Rio da Areia...e os três principais processadores de carne bovina no Brasil: JBS, Marfrig e Minerva...[A]...AgroSB disse que “não possui embargo em seu nome no Conjunto Vale Sereno, que se encontra regular e licenciado...”...O Frigorifico Xinguara afirmou que não adquiriu gado oriundo de fazendas embargadas e que cumpre regularmente as determinações ambientais...[A]...JBS disse que não comprou animais de áreas embargadas pelo Ibama, que vem cumprindo...o Termo de Ajuste de Conduta assinado com o Ministério Público Federal e que todas as operações de compra de gado da companhia são anualmente auditadas...[“O]s comerciantes da Europa e da América do Norte podem contribuir cortando laços com esses maus atores brasileiros, dessa forma enviariam um sinal a Jair Bolsonaro de que o resto do mundo não irá tolerar suas políticas”, disse Eloy Terena, assessor jurídico da APIB. “Se essas empresas seguirem apoiando as empresas brasileiras, devem também assumir a culpa pela destruição das florestas tropicais e do abuso contra os povos indígenas”...[S]egundo...Greepeace e...Chain Reaction Research, os principais propulsores do desmatamento na Amazônia são as indústrias da pecuária e da soja...Bunge...“apresentou sua defesa, na qual estão comprovadas as boas práticas da empresa na aquisição de grãos...”....[A]...Cargill informou que não recebeu nenhuma notificação do Ibama ...A Algar Agro, dona da ABC Inco [ABC Indústria e Comércio SA é sua subsidiária],... “apresentou defesa onde comprova suas boas práticas na compra de grãos..."...A Uniggel e a JJ Samara Agronegócios Eireli não se posicionaram...

[Há menção a Benevides Madeiras e Argus e Tradelink Madeiras]

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Report
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Author: Articulação do Povos Indígenas do Brasil-APIB (Brazil)

"Cumplicidade na destruição: Como os consumidores e financiadores do Norte permitem o ataque do governo Bolsonaro à Amazônia Brasileira", maio de 2019

 

...Como a maior floresta tropical do mundo, a Amazônia fornece 20% de nosso oxigênio, abriga 10% da biodiversidade do planeta e ajuda a estabilizar o clima global. O mundo precisa disso para sobreviver. Ninguém entende isso melhor do que os povos indígenas e comunidades tradicionais que o chamam de lar, e são comprovadamente os melhores administradores. Apesar de sua importância, a Amazônia brasileira e seus povos estão sofrendo o pior ataque em uma geração. O desmatamento está crescendo dramaticamente, enquanto as duras proteções ambientais e de direitos humanos, fundamentais para o futuro da floresta, estão sob sério ataque. Os povos indígenas e as comunidades tradicionais sofrem violência desproporcional e repressão por defender seus direitos e florestas.A ascensão do político de extrema direita Jair Bolsonaro à presidência do Brasil exacerba profundamente a crise ambiental e de direitos humanos do país. Desde que assumiu o poder, seu governo reduziu os padrões socioambientais fundamentais para preservar a integridade ecológica da Amazônia e o bem-estar dos povos da floresta. As severas reversões políticas de Bolsonaro estão ocorrendo no contexto de um ataque generalizado aos princípios e instituições democráticas do país.Uma facção dominante e conservadora do poderoso setor agroindustrial do país, conhecido como “ruralistas”, está ajudando a impulsionar a agenda de Bolsonaro na Amazônia. Trabalhando dentro do governo de Bolsonaro, os representantes da indústria estão tirando a proteção das florestas e dos direitos à terra, a fim de obter acesso irrestrito às áreas atualmente protegidas da atividade industrial. Seu sucesso significaria um desastre para as florestas amazônicas brasileiras e os povos indígenas e tradicionais que os chamam de lar, enquanto comprometem o clima global...

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Article
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Author: Articulação do Povos Indígenas do Brasil-APIB (Brazil)

"Empresas europeias e norte-americanas estão ligadas à responsáveis pela invasão à terras indígenas e desmatamento na Amazônia", 3 de maio de 2019

Um novo relatório mostra pela primeira vez como as empresas de soja, gado e madeira responsáveis ​​pela destruição da Amazônia Brasileira sob o novo presidente do Brasil negociam abertamente e recebem financiamento de várias empresas na Europa e na América do Norte. Embora essas empresas tenham links documentados para o desmatamento ilegal, a corrupção, o trabalho escravo e outros crimes, eles ainda fazem negócios com empresas sediadas em países que são os três maiores parceiros comerciais do Brasil: China, União Europeia e Estados Unidos...“Pedimos que...consumidores internacionais boicotem os produtos do agronegócio brasileiro até que o governo brasileiro definitivamente aborde a questão das demarcações de terras indígenas e atos de violência contra os povos indígenas”, disse Sônia Guajajara, Coordenadora Executiva da Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil...A publicação do relatório coincide com a mobilização anual “Acampamento Terra Livre” do Brasil, que reúne milhares de líderes indígenas na capital do país para exigir que o governo brasileiro respeite seus direitos. Os eventos deste ano assumem uma nova urgência, dados os recentes retrocessos do governo de Bolsonaro nas proteções socioambientais. “Os comerciantes da Europa e Norte-américa podem contribuir cortando laços com esses maus atores brasileiros, dessa forma enviariam um sinal a Bolsonaro de que o resto do mundo não irá tolerar suas políticas...[S]e estas empresas seguirem apoiando as empresas brasileiras, devem também assumir a culpa pela destruição das florestas tropicais e do abuso contra os povos indígenas”...[disse Eloy Terena assessor jurídico da APIB]...O relatório identifica e examina as transações comerciais das empresas brasileiras por trás do aumento do desmatamento ilegal entre 2017-2019 e rastreia seus links para empresas europeias, norte-americanas e canadenses. Os resultados fornecem informações sobre o papel dos agentes econômicos estrangeiros na condução da expansão agroindustrial em florestas tropicais, como descrito em estudos recentes revisados ​​por pares...

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Article
23 July 2019

Brazil: Report by NGOs alleges companies from China, EU and United States were fined for Amazon deforestation; companies respond

Author: Karla Mendes, Mongabay

"China, EU, US trading with Brazilian firms fined for Amazon deforestation: report," 6 May 2019

Brazil-based exporters of commodities fined for Amazon illegal logging and deforestation freely trade with, and receive financing from, major importers and investors worldwide, according to a report released in April by NGO Amazon Watch and produced in collaboration with the National Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB)...In April 2018, Ibama, Brazil’s environmental regulatory agency, fined five of the biggest agricultural traders in Brazil, including Cargill and Bunge, for purchasing 3,000 tons of soy and other grains from embargoed farms that destroyed native vegetation... Bunge... disputes the allegations and has filed a formal response contesting Ibama’s findings...Cargill said “these allegations are without merit” and denied any commercial relationships with the properties in question or the alleged non-compliant transactions.

... ADM said it wouldn’t respond to requests for comments directly but rather a response would come through the Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oil Industries (Abiove) instead... Abiove said the fight against deforestation “is treated as a priority” and that the organization has implemented several actions since 2006 “to eliminate deforestation in the soybean chain.”...In an emailed statement, AgroSB... said the company was fined in 2017 for “alleged commercialization” of livestock from seized areas on the Vale Sereno farm, but Ibama “acknowledged that it made a mistake” and has started to suspend these sanctions... JBS said it does not acquire animals from farms involved with environmental crimes and it has a responsible sourcing policy that establishes “strict social and environmental criteria for suppliers’ selection”... Nordisk... denied the accusations... [T]he company is appealing against fines charged during the administration of the firm’s previous owner. “We only work with certified wood, we have the Green Seal.… We are very careful with this"... GWW Houtimport was... “surprised and shocked” to learn that one of its Brazilian suppliers is linked to failing environmental monitoring, as the company only purchases and sells certified wood... Argus Comercio e Exportação de Alimentos... said the notice of infraction drawn up by Ibama against Betzel is “undue” and has not yet been the subject of a judgment by the agency. “The company carries out its activities in the strictest legality, having all the necessary operating authorizations issued by government."...

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Article
23 July 2019

Report alleges that European & North American companies complicit in deforestation of the Amazon & human rights abuses

Author: Amazon Watch

"Complicity in Destruction II: How Northern Consumers and Financiers Enable Bolsonaro's Assault on the Brazilian Amazon," April 2019

As the world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon provides 20% of our oxygen, houses 10% of the planet’s biodiversity, and helps stabilize the global climate... Despite [its] importance, the Brazilian Amazon and its peoples are suffering the worst assault in a generation. Deforestation is mounting dramatically...Indigenous peoples and traditional communities themselves suffer disproportionate violence and repression for defending their rights and forests.

The political and economic power that sustains these retrograde actors is provided in large part by global market actors: commodity traders, financiers and consumers. European and North American businesses that finance and source from Brazilian businesses...enable Brazil’s socio-environmental landscape to be reshaped to our collective detriment... This report examines how some of the worst actors operating in the Brazilian Amazon - which have documented links to illegal deforestation, corruption, slave labor, and other crimes - openly trade with and receive financing from a range of companies in Europe and North America. By analyzing 56 Brazilian companies that were fined for environmental crimes in the Amazon since 2017, and identifying a range of northern commercial interests that do business with them, this report demonstrates the complicity of global actors with this kind of egregious behavior, increasingly becoming the norm under the Bolsonaro regime.

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Company response
22 July 2019

ABN Amro response

Author: ABN Amro

…ABN AMRO strives to create long-term value for its stakeholders, to respect human rights and safeguard the environment. The bank recognizes that in its role as a financial service provider it may be exposed to social, environmental and ethical risks through the activities of clients. To manage these sustainability risks, ABN AMRO operates a Sustainability Risk Policy Framework in line with the banks moderate risk profile.  More specifically, ABN AMRO has formulated sustainability requirements for clients in the agri-commodity sector. ABN AMRO acknowledges that the agri sector poses sustainability risks, such as: Deforestation: Agriculture may involve clear-cutting of forest. Deforestation is of concern as forests are a prerequisite for biodiversity. Forests also serve as carbon sinks and therefore play an important role in climate change mitigation. Peatland degradation: Peatlands may be drained for agricultural purposes. This causes degradation and the emission of methane into the atmosphere contributing to climate change. Also, drainage increases the risk of fire and flooding.  Land issues: Large-scale land acquisitions for the purpose of plantations for agriculture may lead to land disputes with local communities.  Working conditions: Working conditions in the agri sector may be hazardous, for example because of lack of protection and the use of chemicals and pesticides. Also child labour is may be an issue…

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