A rapid response to our 'Slaughtering the Amazon' report

Posted by sarah — 11 June 2009 at 4:02pm - Comments

In the week since the launch of our ‘Slaughtering the Amazon' report the response has been almost overwhelming. In fact, it's difficult to write this, because even as I'm typing it more emails are coming in from our offices across the world, telling us about breaking developments.

The biggest and best news is that the three biggest supermarkets chains in Brazil, Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Pão de Açúcar, have announced that they will cancel contracts with farms involved in Amazon deforestation. This is an important first step towards winning a halt to further deforestation for cattle in the Amazon.

Our report traced the links between the cattle industry and the massive greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation in Brazil. There's been widespread press coverage of the report - including a front page splash in the Guardian, and big pieces in the FT and the Telegraph. The story has gone around the world, with major reports in newspapers from Germany to Indonesia and Pakistan, and everywhere in between.

The story also got huge coverage in Brazil. The issue has shot to prominence in the country, and on the day our report was released a Brazilian federal prosecutor filed a billion dollar lawsuit against the cattle ranching industry! He wrote to major slaughterhouse companies including Bertin, as well as 69 companies purchasing cattle products implicated in deforestation including Carrefour and Wal-Mart, threatening them with fines if they do not stop buying from farms acting illegally.

Outside of Brazil, we have generated a buzz in the shoe sector - a major purchaser of Amazon leather. A Greenpeace protest outside shoe company Geox's headquarters in Milan has kept the pressure on, and we are seeking meetings with all the shoe companies that are named in the report. But we still have lots of work to do. You can help us make sure they take notice by writing to the big shoe retailers, and telling them that driving deforestation is unacceptable.

Unfortunately, while our campaign is shaking up boardrooms around the world, there is a rapidly changing environment in Brazil and some of the change is for the worse. 

The Brazilian Senate last week passed legislation handing over property rights for up to 67 million hectares of rainforest - an area bigger than Norway and Germany combined - which jeopardizes the steps forward we've made for forest protection in the Amazon. There are also proposals to double the amount of rainforest that could be legally cleared, and to build a road through the western half of the Amazon which would open up the forest to further massive clearances. The Brazilian environment Minister Carlos Minc, who has praised our report and stated that he agrees with our recommendations, is under fire from the agribusiness sector who are calling for his removal.

All of this makes it vital that we continue to put pressure on the companies driving deforestation. Please help us by writing to the shoe companies, and let's keep the ball rolling on stopping Amazon deforestation.

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