Brazilian supermarket giant Pão de Açúcar stops buying deforestation beef

Posted by Richardg — 1 April 2016 at 11:09am - Comments
All rights reserved. Credit: Ze Gabriel
Activists in Sao Paulo put stickers on beef saying 'do you know where your beef comes from?'

Great news: Pão de Açúcar – one of Brazil’s major supermarket chains – has finally agreed to stop stocking beef linked to forest destruction. It's a huge victory for Brazilian consumers, who joined Greenpeace's campaign in their thousands - but it's also big deal for the planet. Here's why.

Greenpeace first started campaigning against the destruction of the Amazon rainforest by cattle farmers in 2009. Last year, we published a report that exposed how Brazilian supermarkets were selling beef linked to forest destruction. Greenpeace volunteers visited supermarkets around the country, stickering products to demand that supermarkets protect the Amazon. 

Thousands of people across Brazil joined the campaign - and today they're celebrating a big success. Pão de Açúcar , one of the biggest supermarkets in Brazil, has agreed to stop buying beef from cattle ranches that destroy the Amazon or use slave labour - setting a new standard for other supermarkets in Brazil to follow.

1. Stopping deforestation for beef is crucial for the Amazon and the climate.

The cattle sector in the Brazilian Amazon is the largest driver of deforestation in the world, responsible for one in every eight hectares destroyed globally. After rainforest is burned or clear-cut for timber, ranchers quickly move cattle into the newly deforested areas to feed on the fast-growing grass.

There are already more cows than people in Brazil, and millions of those cows are in the Amazon region – occupying about 60 percent of all deforested land.

2. Amazon beef and labour abuse are connected. Addressing deforestation means addressing workers’ rights, too.

Livestock production in the Brazilian Amazon isn’t just the leading cause of deforestation there. It also has historically relied on slave labour and is often connected to the invasion of Indigenous Lands. Pão de Açúcar has also promised to block meat from farms involved in slave labour and clashes with traditional communities.

3. Pão de Açúcar’s change of heart shows that consumer voices make a difference.

When thousands of customers of Pão de Açúcar made it known they wanted an end to beef linked to deforestation, labour abuse and invasion of Indigenous Lands, the company listened.

Consumers have the right to know if they are contributing to the destruction of the Amazon or the violation of human rights. The question now is how long it will take other supermarkets in Brazil to start listening, too.

What’s next?

Much remains to be done to ensure that meat across Brazil is not connected to deforestation, slave labour and illegal occupation of land. And people in Brazil and around the world need to eat less meat to ensure a stable climate, reduce pollution and improve health. But from supermarket aisles to the halls of Brazil’s National Congress, Brazilians are showing that real change for forests is possible.

Just last year, more than 1.4 million Brazilians pledged their support for a law that would make Amazon deforestation of any kind illegal!

Greenpeace will continue monitoring Pão de Açúcar to ensure the company keeps its promises. Now, we need to push the rest of industry in the same direction. 

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