FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo shows a deforested plot of land in the Amazon near Porto Velho, Rondonia state, Brazil, August 21, 2019. Photo taken on August 21, 2019. REUTERS / Ueslei Marcelino / File Photo
Richard Lough and Dominique Vidalon
Indigenous peoples from Brazil and Colombia sued retailer Casino Wednesday in a French court over beef sales in connection with land grabbing and deforestation in the Amazon.
It’s the first time that one French supermarket chain is on trial for deforestation and loss of land and livelihood under a 2017 law in France that requires its businesses to avoid human rights and environmental violations in their supply chains.
The Casino, Brazil’s largest grocery retailer, Grupo Pao de Acucar (GPA) and thus also controls Colombian retailer Almacenes Exito, said it have actively fought against deforestation by ranchers in Brazil and Colombia.
The lawsuit alleges that Casino regularly bought beef from three slaughterhouses owned by a large Brazilian meat packer.
Those slaughterhouses sourced nearly 600 cattle Suppliers who were responsible for deforestation for at least 50,000 hectares (123,550 acres) – an area five times the size of Paris – between 2008 and 2020.
« Casino and Pão de Açúcar’s demand for beef is driving deforestation, Land grabbing and violence come with it, « said Luis Eloy Terena of COIAB, an agency that coordinates indigenous groups in the Brazilian Amazon, in a statement.
Casino said GPA has a strict policy to control the origin of what is supplied by its suppliers Applied beef and added that Brazilian beef was not sold in its French stores.
GPA told Reuter s with the fact that since 2016 it has set criteria that its suppliers must adhere to. This included « no deforestation in the Amazon, no slave-like working conditions, no child labor and no invasions into indigenous land or nature reserves ». The ranchers must have land ownership documents, he added.
« Sustainable ranching is one of the focal points of the company’s sustainability strategy, » said Almacenes Exito’s parent company, Grupo Exito, responding to questions, describing itself as a pioneer in implementing the Practice in Colombian retail.
Grupo Exito added that it has monitored all of the more than 36,990 hectares of land used by its suppliers, drawn up its sustainability plans in partnership with conservation NGOs and signed commitments to deforestation .
The Amazon plays an important role in regulating the earth’s climate by absorbing carbon dioxide, one of the major greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.
An area of Amazon rainforest the size of Israel became fell last year, campaign groups say, and ranching is a major cause of loss of life As population growth and the growing middle class in developing countries fuel the consumption of meat and dairy products.
Sebastian Mabile, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said Casino and its subsidiary had failed to meet their supply chain review commitments.
« We want them to pay around 3 million euros to the organizations representing indigenous peoples and to ensure that their activities do not lead to deforestation, » Mabile said at a press conference.
The French bank BNP Paribas has im Committed in February to only finance companies that produce beef or soybeans in Latin America and that pursue a zero deforestation strategy by 2025.
In January, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse and Dutch lender ING announced that they were financing cease trading in crude oil from Ecuador. Indigenous leaders said the banks’ money made them complicit in the destruction of the rainforest by the Ecuadorian oil industry.
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