A group of around 40 major food companies and representative organisations have joined forces in issuing a warning to the Brazilian Government over controversial land reforms.
The letter, signed by the NPA, leading UK pork processors Cranswick and Pilgrim’s UK, various UK retailers, Red Tractor, the Agricultural Industries Confederation and other major food companies across Europe, warns that the European businesses will stop sourcing products like soya from the country if it presses ahead with the legislation.
The letter has generated a significant amount of publicity today, including featuring prominently in BBC news and online, which the signatories hope will increase the pressure on Brazil.
It calls on the Brazil Government to reject a bill that would allow land that has been illegally occupied after 2014 to be put up for sale. This would potentially allow illegal occupants to buy it, which the signatories fear could result in an increase in deforestation for the purposes of raising beef cattle or growing soya, in both cases, primarily for export.
A similar letter was sent last year, ahead of the expected introduction of the bill, but the legislation was withdrawn.
The letter urges the Brazilian government to reconsider its proposal. “We were heartened by your previous decision to withdraw the proposal before it was brought to the floor,” it says.
“Over the past year, we have seen a series of circumstances result in extremely high levels of forest fires and deforestation in Brazil.
“At the same time, we have noted that the targets to reduce these levels, as well as the enforcement budgets available to deliver them, are increasingly inadequate. It is therefore extremely concerning to see that the same measure we responded to last year is being put forward again, with potentially even greater threats to the Amazon than before.”
Under president Jair Bolsanaro, the level of deforestation in the Amazon is reported as being the highest since 2008, according to the BBC. This year, around 430,000 acres of the Amazon have been logged or burned, according to the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project.
The signatories say the measures run counter to the rhetoric from Mr Bolsanaro at the April summit on climate change with US president Joe Biden.
“We would like to reiterate that we consider the Amazon as a vital part of the earth system that’s essential to the security of our planet as well as being a critical part of a prosperous future for Brazilians and all of society,” it adds.
The organisations stress that the existing protections and land designations enshrined in Brazilian legislation have been instrumental in them having trust that their products, services, investments and business relationships in Brazil are ‘aligned with the commitments we hold as environmentally and socially responsible enterprises, and that our customers and stakeholders expect of us’.
They reiterate their desire to work with Brazilian partners on supporting the development of sustainable land management and agriculture – and economic development whilst upholding the rights of Indigenous Peoples and traditional communities.
“However, if measures that undermine these existing protections become law, we will have no choice but to reconsider our support and use of the Brazilian agricultural commodity supply chain,” the letter concludes.
The NPA’s Lizzie Wilson, who represents the pig sector on the UK roundtable on sustainable soya, said: “Soya continues to be an important part of pig diets. But the UK pig sector, and the wider food chain as this letter so clearly shows, is absolutely determined that the soya we source must be sustainably produced. That is why we have put our name to this letter – we hope the Brazilian Government is listening.
“The NPA is a member of the UK roundtable on sustainable soya and we will also continue to support and help develop alternative sources of protein for pig diets, particularly where they can be sourced closer to home.”
- Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC)
- Ahold Delhaize GSO B.V.
- ALDI Einkauf SE & Co. oHG
- ALDI SOUTH Group
- AP7 (Sjunde AP-fonden)
- Asda Stores Ltd.
- The Big Prawn Company
- British Retail Consortium
- Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes
- Co-op Switzerland
- The Co-operative Group
- Cranswick plc
- Donau Soja
- EdenTree Investment Management
- Greggs plc
- Hilton Food Group
- KLP Kapitalforvaltning AS
- Legal & General Investment Management
- Lidl Stiftung
- Marks & Spencer
- METRO AG
- Moy Park
- National Pig Association
- New England Seafood International (NESI)
- Pilgrim’s UK
- ProTerra Foundation
- Red Tractor Assurance
- Retail Soy Group
- J Sainsbury Plc
- Swedbank Robur Fonder AB
- Tesco PLC
- Waitrose & Partners
- Winterbotham Darby
- Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc