The Brazilian butcher, the big banks and the deforestation

27th Jul 20 by Daniel Jones

New evidence exposes links between Brazilian meat company JBS and ongoing deforestation in the Amazon.

In response to Feedback’s recent report, Brazilian butcher JBS said “it takes a zero-tolerance approach to deforestation in its supply chain”. But a new investigation by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Reporter Do Brasil provides compelling new evidence that it does not.

Photos from a JBS employee, show a JBS truck being used to move cattle between a farm fined for deforestation of rainforest and still under official embargo, to a “clean” farm, that sells cattle onto JBS. The Brazilian beef giant has long claimed that they cannot monitor indirect supplies and disputes the allegations.

Investors have argued that to improve practices (like illegal deforestation linked to cattle ranching) it is better to engage with companies, than to cut them adrift. Yet despite years of engagement with JBS around deforestation, corporate governance, and human rights issues – little has changed.

Engagement is failing. JBS is the canary in the coalmine. Industrial meat and dairy corporations are incapable of changing and are incompatible with deforestation, climate and food system goals.

This investigation is also compelling evidence that major financial providers will be in direct violation of their own deforestation policies if they continue their financial relationship with JBS. Feedback’s research suggests that investors and banks who are potentially in violation of their own policies include HSBC, Credit Suisse, Santander, BNP Paribas, Rabobank, UBS, Northern Trust, Banco Do Brazil, Janus Henderson. Find the top ten creditors and investors in JBS below – Feedback will this week be sharing a full list of investors as part of our trailblazing commitment to open data campaigning.

HSBC, for example, “will not knowingly provide financial services to customers involved directly in or sourcing from suppliers involved in[…] deforestation”. In response to our recent report, Butchering the Planet, a HSBC spokesperson told the Guardian that “the bank took its “agricultural commodities policy very seriously” and regularly assessed clients “for commitment to sustainable business practices”. The UK’s largest investor in JBS, Prudential, claimed last month it was actively engaging with Amazon fire and deforestation issues and provided The Guardian with a document explaining specific strategies with Marfrig and Minerva Foods – failing to mention JBS.

Today the focus is on JBS, tomorrow there will be new horrors in the supply chains of these corporations that pay little regard for people or planet. Investors are becoming more vocal, but it is time for the positive words to lead to decisive action. It is time to divest and defund industrial meat and dairy.

Parent Investor Parent Country Loans Underwriting Grand Total
Barclays United Kingdom 2,786 920 3,706
Royal Bank of Canada Canada 1,711 495 2,205
Rabobank Netherlands 1,065 186 1,251
BMO Financial Group Canada 729 495 1,224
Truist Financial United States 591 186 777
JPMorgan Chase United States 751 751
US Bancorp United States 491 186 678
Santander Spain 60 607 667
Banco do Brasil Brazil 507 507
BTG Pactual Brazil 457 457

 

 

Sum of Per Investor Value (in mln US$)   Type of financing    
Investor Parent Investor Parent Country Bondholding Shareholding Grand Total
BNDES Brazil 3,734 3,734
Fidelity Investments United States 443 144 587
BlackRock United States 256 237 493
Grupo J&F Brazil 222 222
Waddell & Reed Financial United States 159 159
JPMorgan Chase United States 152 3 155
Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance United States 146 146
Itaú Unibanco Brazil 143 143
Vanguard United States 1 141 142
APG Group Netherlands 135 135

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