Fires have been raging through Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest for weeks. But what do major global fast food companies like McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King have to do with them?
KFC buys chicken from Brazil which ends up in its UK outlets. Not only does Burger King buy beef directly from Brazil, it is owned by a Brazilian billionaire through the company 3G Capital. And in August 2016, McDonald’s in Brazil began buying meat raised in the Amazon region for the first time since 1986 – after a gap of 30 years.
As well as directly sourcing poultry, KFC’s chickens are fed a diet of soya direct from the forests of Brazil. This is propping up a powerful system that is encouraging aggressive expansion of agribusiness into the Brazilian Amazon. KFC, McDonalds and Burger King are the biggest names in fast food. Their shops are at virtually every high street across the UK. If these fast food companies speak out against forest destruction and change their ways, an entire industry could follow, leaving Bolsonaro without anyone to buy his goods from deforestation.
Fires have been started deliberately by farmers to clear land in response to President Bolsonaro’s calls to open the Amazon up to expanded food production. Close to 2.5 million hectares of land – an area larger than Wales – was burned in the Brazilian Amazon during August, according to data published by INEP, Brazil’s agency responsible for monitoring forest clearances.
Cattle and chicken rearing – and soya agriculture to feed these animals worldwide – form a significant part of Brazil’s export economy. Fast food companies therefore have significant power through their purchasing decisions to send the Brazilian government a strong message: that consumers don’t want food tainted by forest destruction.
McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC and other similar companies have promised to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains, but they are failing to meet these commitments.
Some of the UK’s biggest supermarkets are also complicit: Tesco and Sainsbury’s are both churning out industrial meat that’s fuelling deforestation.
Tesco uses more soya for animal feed than any supermarket in the UK. They have the power to help break this destructive cycle. But so far they’ve taken no meaningful action.
Tell them to stop sourcing meat, chicken and soya from Brazil until the Amazon and its people are protected: