Exclusive: Call comes after The Independent reported on how the global meat industry is accused of using ‘tobacco company tactics’ to downplay its role in driving the climate crisis
The supermarket does not buy directly from JBS, but does purchase meat from two of its UK subsidiary companies, Moy Park and Pilgrim’s Pride.
Greenpeace accused JBS of “actively supporting producers that are deforesting and using fire to clear the Amazon” in the letter to Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy.
The call comes after O Independente reported that JBS and other large meat companies have been accused of using “tobacco company tactics” to downplay their role in driving the climate crisis.
Meat and dairy production accounts for around 14.5 por cento of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
But an investigation by the environmental outlet Desmog, compartilhado com O Independente, said that top meat companies are copying tricks also used by fossil fuel firms to ultimately “confuse and delay regulation” of their planet-harming activities.
Such tactics include routinely downplaying their own greenhouse gas emissions, attacking established science on how livestock farming is driving the climate crisis and casting doubt over the benefits of plant-based alternatives to meat, according to the investigation.
Greenpeace has previously targeted Tesco over its links to JBS and last summer called for the supermarket to halve the amount of meat it sells by 2025 to help tackle the climate and nature crises.
“We urge you again as the UK’s largest supermarket and biggest seller of industrially produced meat to lead the way,” Greenpeace UK’s chief executive John Sauven said in the letter.
“Stop funding Amazon destruction by dropping JBS and its subsidiaries from your supply chain now.”
Greenpeace’s call comes after a study published in Natureza earlier this month found that parts of the Amazon have begun emitting more carbon than they are able to absorb as a result of deforestation and the climate crisis.
Researchers and environmental campaigners also warned this month that the rainforest could be heading towards unprecedented damage under the leadership of Jair Bolsanaro.
The Brazilian president is attempting to push through a suite of land regulation bills that could put a further 19.6 million hectares of public land in the Amazon at risk and threaten the rights of indigenous groups, according to the NGO Imazon.
Tesco was one of a number of UK companies to recently sign an open letter warning that it would “reconsider” its support of Brazilian agricultural goods if the new laws are passed.
But Greenpeace said Tesco’s “signature means very little” while it keeps ties with “companies that stand to directly profit from this dangerous legislation”.
A spokesperson for Tesco said: “Clearing forest land for crops must stop. We are committed to fully playing our part to prevent further deforestation.
“We met our 2020 industry-wide target of certified ‘zero net deforestation’ for our own direct soy sourcing a year early. Recognising there is more to do, we have set an additional 2025 target to only source our UK soy from verified zero deforestation regions. Our suppliers meet our zero deforestation standards, and we are working with them to meet our 2025 goal.”
The spokesperson added that Tesco opposed “any weakening of forest protection laws and has called on the Brazilian Congress to uphold existing protections”.
A spokesperson for JBS disputed Greenpeace’s allegations and claimed that its “cattle purchases were 100 per cent deforestation free”.
“JBS does not condone deforestation,” the spokesperson said. “Earlier this year, JBS also became the first major global meat and poultry company to commit to net zero emissions by 2040.”
The JBS spokesperson added that the company has “committed to reduce direct emissions from our operations by 30 por cento por 2030 and we will invest more than $1 billion in emission reduction projects over the next decade alone”.
O Independente also contacted representatives of Moy Park and Pilgrim’s Pride for comment.