Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Brazilian leather giant commits to Amazon cattle moratorium following indsutry pressure

One of the world's largest leather suppliers, and Brazil's second-largest beef exporter today backed Greenpeace's call for a moratorium on the purchase of cattle from farms involved in new deforestation in the Amazon with immediate effect. (1).

Bertin's announcement follows tough new policy statements from shoe retailers such as Clarks, Nike, Timberland, Geox and Adidas, in response to a Greenpeace report entitled Slaughtering the Amazon, which was released in June.

The report traced leather, beef and other cattle products from ranches involved in the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest back to top brands' supply chains.

The cattle giant now joins Marfrig, the fourth-largest producer of beef and beef products in the world, which adopted a similar commitment in July (2).

"Bertin's decision should pave the way for the modernisation of the Brazilian cattle industry", said Sarah Shoraka, Greenpeace Forests campaigner.

"Given the sheer size of both Bertin and Marfrig's operations, this commitment will have real impact on driving down Amazon deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. Greenpeace will closely monitor the moratorium's implementation to ensure its success", said Shoraka.

In the next 180 days, Bertin will register and map all fatteningfarms which supply cattle directly to the company. For the rest of the supply chain, including rearing and nursery farms, Bertin believes that it will require two-years to implement a traceability system from farms to its slaughterhouses and processing facilities.

The company will also ensure it is not buying cattle from indigenous and protected areas or from farms linked to slave labour, land conflicts and land grabbing.

Marfrig and Bertin's commitment to end Amazon deforestation has isolated Brazilian JBS-Friboi, the world's largest producer and global exporter of processed beef. Contrary to its competitors, JBS-Friboi is staying silent on the issue and is expanding into the Amazon having rented several new facilities north of Mato Grosso State, an area which has the greatest rate of cattle ranching expansion and deforestation in the Amazon.

"JBS-Friboi must accept its responsibilities and stop fuelling Amazon destruction. It needs to join these companies in protecting the rainforest now," said Shoraka.

Brazil's entire cattle sector urgently needs to follow the soya industry's example and commit to a moratorium on expansion into newly deforested areas.Both the federal and state governments must ensure this is possible by mapping, registering and monitoring rural properties, helping the private sector to fulfill its corporate liabilities. Cattle ranching is the biggest driver of Amazon rainforest destruction and contributes to making Brazil the fourth largest climate polluter in the world.

Fernando Bertin, CEO of Bertin, S.A. said: "Environmental responsibility is increasingly relevant for a company like ours to maintain and enhance its position in Brazil and abroad. Today, we are making a fundamental step."

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