NPA joins forces with major food companies to warn Brazil over controversial land reforms
5th May 2021 / By Alistair Driver
The NPA has joined forces with a group of around 40 major food companies in warning the Brazilian Government that they will stop sourcing products like soya from the country if it presses ahead with controversial land reforms.
The letter, also signed by leading UK pork processors and retailers, Red Tractor, the Agricultural Industries Confederation and other major food companies across Europe, has generated a significant amount of publicity, including featuring prominently in BBC news and online, which the signatories hope will increase the pressure on Brazil.
The letter calls on the Brazilian Government to reject a bill that would allow land that has been illegally occupied after 2014 to be put up for sale. This would potentially allow illegal occupants to buy it, which the signatories fear could result in an increase in deforestation for the purposes of raising beef cattle or growing soya, in both cases, primarily for export.
A similar letter was sent last year, ahead of the expected introduction of the bill, but the legislation was withdrawn.
The letter again urges the Brazilian government to reconsider its proposal. “We were heartened by your previous decision to withdraw the proposal before it was brought to the floor,” it says.
“Over the past year, we have seen a series of circumstances result in extremely high levels of forest fires and deforestation in Brazil.
“At the same time, we have noted that the targets to reduce these levels, as well as the enforcement budgets available to deliver them, are increasingly inadequate. It is therefore extremely concerning to see that the same measure we responded to last year is being put forward again, with potentially even greater threats to the Amazon than before.”
Under the leadership of president Jair Bolsanaro, the level of deforestation in the Amazon is reported as being the highest since 2008, according to the BBC.
This year alone, around 430,000 acres of the Amazon have been logged or burned, according to the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project.
The signatories say the measures run counter to the rhetoric from Mr Bolsanaro as recently as the April summit on climate change with US president Joe Biden.
“We would like to reiterate that we consider the Amazon as a vital part of the earth system that’s essential to the security of our planet as well as being a critical part of a prosperous future for Brazilians and all of society,” it adds.
The organisations stress that the existing protections and land designations enshrined in Brazilian legislation have been instrumental in them having trust that their products, services, investments and business relationships in Brazil are ‘aligned with the commitments we hold as environmentally and socially responsible enterprises, and that our customers and stakeholders expect of us’.
They reiterate their desire to work with Brazilian partners on supporting the development of sustainable land management and agriculture – and economic development whilst upholding the rights of Indigenous Peoples and traditional communities.
“However, if measures that undermine these existing protections become law, we will have no choice but to reconsider our support and use of the Brazilian agricultural commodity supply chain,” the letter concludes.
The NPA’s Lizzie Wilson, who represents the pig sector on the UK roundtable on sustainable soya, said: "Soya continues to be an important part of pig diets. But the UK pig sector, and the wider food chain, as this letter so clearly shows, is absolutely determined that the soya we source must be sustainably produced. That is why we have put our name to this letter - we hope the Brazilian Government is listening.
"The NPA is a member of the UK roundtable on sustainable soya and we will also continue to support and help develop alternative sources of protein for pig diets, particularly where they can be sourced closer to home."
Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC)
Ahold Delhaize GSO B.V.
ALDI Einkauf SE & Co. oHG
ALDI SOUTH Group
AP7 (Sjunde AP-fonden)
Asda Stores Ltd.
The Big Prawn Company
British Retail Consortium
Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes
The Co-operative Group
EdenTree Investment Management
Hilton Food Group
KLP Kapitalforvaltning AS
Legal & General Investment Management
Marks & Spencer
National Pig Association
New England Seafood International (NESI)
Red Tractor Assurance
Retail Soy Group
J Sainsbury Plc
Swedbank Robur Fonder AB
Waitrose & Partners
Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc