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Report

Brazil: Global Witness report on beef traders uncovers links to deforestation, flawed audits & complicity of banks & companies

"Beef, Banks and the Brazilian Amazon", 2 Dec 2020

Fresh evidence shows that major Brazilian meat traders JBS, Marfrig and Minerva are failing to remove vast swathes of deforested Amazon land from their supply chains, which flawed audits by DNV-GL and Grant Thornton did not identify. All while big banks like Barclays, Morgan Stanley and Santander continue backing these meat traders, despite many warnings of their failures. Well-known high street stores and brands, like Burger King, Sainsbury’s, Subway, McDonalds, Walmart, Carrefour, and Nestlé are also recent customers of theirs.

Some of this forest devastation also involves serious human rights abuses against indigenous peoples and land rights activists.

Our exposé clearly shows how relying on an unregulated private sector with voluntary no-deforestation policies has failed to tackle forest destruction, and could contribute to the permanent loss of the Amazon ecosystem. Especially in the context of an alarming escalation of Amazon deforestation in recent years, with the Brazilian government rolling back its forest law enforcement and accountability. 

Unless governments take urgent action to confront these issues and hold their businesses to account, the world’s biggest rainforest could face an irreversible tipping point that might destroy its ecology, further accelerate climate breakdown and threaten the communities that live in and rely on it.

All of the beef companies, banks and auditors featured in the report were approached for comment...

When asked for comment, the beef companies justified their purchases from the ranches and denied any wrongdoing, which Global Witness in turn disputed (see full report for details). The ranchers concerned likewise denied the allegations.

In response to our allegations, the auditors DNV-GL and Grant Thornton claimed that restrictions on the audits may have excluded them from investigating the cases found by Global Witness (see report for more details). When asked for comment, all of the banks mentioned in our report defended their financial relationships with the meat traders.