Auditors, financiers and retailers are supporting deforestation

NEWS AND VIEWS: Although the UK supermarket, Morrisons, have decided to stop sourcing its own brand of corned beef from a Brazilian meat company accused of contributing to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, JBS, Global Witness claim that auditors, financiers and retailers are involved in deforestation because they are supporting the businesses which are benefiting from deforestation. They argue that they cannot plead ignorance.

Deforestation for cattle farming in Amazon basin. Photo: Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace

Despite Morrisons stopping the purchase of JBS products, they are still selling a corned beef supplied by JBS, namely, Princes. Destroying the Amazon rainforest to make space for cattle ranching is the biggest contributor to deforestation which is at its highest level since 2008. It is underhandedly supported by the Brazilian government.

Global Witness, a campaign group, has accused Barclays, Santander and HSBC, all leading banks, of failing to carry out adequate checks before providing their services and financing to JBS and other Brazilian beef traders all of whom, it is argued, are linked to deforestation.

Global Witness have analysed satellite images and examined records and data to reveal 500 mi² of illegal deforestation since 2008 on cattle ranches supplying three businesses, JBS, Marfig and Minerva. The banks provided £3 billion of finance to the company’s over the period 2017 to 2019, they say.

All those involved deny wrongdoing. For example, Minerva said that the ranches concerned were “fully compliant with sustainability criteria”. And Marfig told Global Witness that the deforestation concerned had taken place before it had made their commitment in 2009 not to contribute to deforestation.

HSBC said that they “regularly assess its clients for commitment to sustainable business practices”. Santander are committed to tackling deforestation, they claim.

Deforestation is as rampant as ever. It’s getting worse so I think we can reasonably decide that the statements from the financiers and all those providing services to the cattle ranches within the Amazon rainforest are hollow.