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But what’s in the bag?The Guardian reports that British supermarkets are driving rapid destruction of the Amazon rainforest by using meat from farms responsible for illegal deforestation, highlighting a report from Greenpeace that investigates the global trade in Brazilian cattle products. The report, Slaughtering the Amazon, names Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons and Marks and Spencer among dozens of high-profile companies it says profit from products supplied by Brazilian farms on illegally deforested land. Much of the trade is in processed beef, used for pies, canned meat and frozen ready meals. The supermarkets insist it is not from the Amazon. Greenpeace also tracked the global trade in other Brazilian goods made from cattle. The report focusses on three Brazilian companies, Bertin, JBS and Marfrig and also names Nike, Adidas, Timberland and Clarks Shoes among companies it says use leather linked to Amazon destruction and wants the companies to refuse to buy products sourced from farms that have carried out illegal deforestation. It wants consumers to pressure supermarkets and high-street brands identified in the report to clean-up supply chains and spokesperson Sarah Shoraka said “the cattle industry is the single biggest cause of deforestation in the world and is a disaster for the fight against climate change. Global brands must take a stand.” Clearing tropical forests for agriculture is estimated to produce 17% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – more than the entire global transport system. Cattle farming is now the biggest threat to the remaining Amazon rainforest, a fifth of which has been lost since 1970. Big ranches are blamed for 80% of all deforestation in the region and the number of cattle in the Amazon has grown from 21m in 1995 to 56m in 2006.
Many of the companies named in the Greenpeace report promote their efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Tesco and Marks and Spencer denied the meat came from the Amazon and Sainsbury’s said it used “a small amount of Brazilian beef in our frozen and canned range”. Morrisons said its suppliers provided documents to prove beef was not linked to Amazon deforestation. Asda said it was confident its beef did not come from the Amazon. It said: “If that isn’t the case we’d take that very seriously indeed.” Nike and Adidas said they would be discussing the issue with Greenpeace. Timberland said it used Bertin leather, but did not track the origin of all raw materials. Clarks Shoes said its UK operation was phasing out Bertin leather and seeking ways to guarantee source. Bertin said it would investigate and act on any evidence of “supplier irregularity”.
For the full article by David Adam see http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/may/31/supermarkets-amazon-cattle-deforestation-greenpeace