Industry News - AM

JBS, Nestlé monitor supply chains in Brazil amid Amazon fires

By Tom Johnston on 8/30/2019

Global food giants JBS S.A. and Nestlé S.A. are taking steps to make sure they are not contributing to deforestation in the Amazon rainforest that is blamed for devastating fires occurring in the region, according media reports.

Gilberto Tomazoni, chief executive of JBS, said the Sao Paulo-based meatpacker is using satellite technology to monitor a 280,000-square-mile section of Brazil to make sure it is not purchasing cattle from deforested areas, Reuters reported

Satellite monitoring is also among a number of tools that Swiss-based Nestlé said it will use to make sure that the meat, among other foods that the company sources from Brazil, is not from producers whose practices contribute to deforestation, according to a report by Market Watch

The Amazon rainforest, most of which lies within Brazil, is an important ecosystem. Reports saying that the Amazon produces 20% of the planet’s oxygen are now being debunked by scientists, who rather point out that one of its most important attributes is that it pulls carbon dioxide out of the air and helps cool the planet.

More than 75,000 fires have been reported in Brazil as yet this year, up 85% from the same period last year, according to Market Watch, citing data from Brazil’s space agency.

Some forest fires are set deliberately to clear land for food production, a practice environmentalists say has increased with looser regulations under Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

JBS’s Tomazoni was quoted as saying his company is working to meet the expectation of a modern consumer who cares about the environment and animal welfare.

Some consumers feel that “modern agriculture” destroys the planet, but that’s a misguided perception considering that the latest technologies allow JBS and others to make more food with far fewer resources, Tomazoni was quoted as saying.

Not the first time

JBS and other Brazilian beef companies have been blamed for contributing to Amazonian deforestation at least as far back as 2009. That same year, JBS signed a sustainability pact with Walmart pledging not to source beef from cattle raised in deforested parts of the region. Less than a year later, the company was among those accused of falling short of their promises.

In the years since, JBS has been fined, signed a pact that eliminated the fine, made a short list of McDonald's most sustainable suppliers, battled, then buried the hatchet with Greenpeace over the issue.

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