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Supermarkets and Amazon fires

Green MEPs press UK supermarkets to give customers information on products from deforested Amazon
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Supermarkets and Amazon fires

The UK’s Green MEPs have written to leading supermarkets asking them to carry out an audit of their supply chains to identify products on their shelves that have come from the Brazilian Amazon.

The call comes in the wake of the 70,000 destructive fires that have swept through the Brazilian Amazon rainforest.

Informed choices

Commenting on the letter, Molly Scott Cato, who is head of the UK delegation of Green MEPs, said: ‘We know that many people have been heartbroken at the destruction taking place in the Amazon. But this has been accompanied by feelings of powerlessness.

‘That is why we want supermarkets to audit their supply chains and provide customers with the information they need to make informed choices and to boycott products that are there as a result of deforestation in the Amazon. Primarily, this means products containing Brazilian beef or beef fed on Brazilian soya.’

Runaway climate change

Alexandra Phillips, the Green MEP for the South East of England, who sits on the European Parliament’s Environment Committee, added: ‘We have witnessed in horror as the planet’s most important carbon sink goes up in flames. Losing the Amazon rainforest could lead to runaway climate change and the end of life on Earth as we know it.

‘The fires are not accidental or natural but a deliberate policy, encouraged by the Bolsonaro regime, to enable the expansion of beef production and the growth in the profits of the beef producers and exporters.

‘Supermarkets have a key role to play in stopping this destruction by enabling customers to avoid products that can be directly linked back to deforestation.’

The letter to supermarkets

The following letter has been sent to Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Tesco, Asda, Co-op, Iceland, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Lidl, Aldi, Budgens and Booths.

‘The destruction of the Amazon rainforest is heartbreaking and the people of the world look on in horror as our most important carbon sink goes up in flames. This year has seen a record number of fires – more than 70,000 across Brazil – which represents a more than an 80% increase compared with the same period last year.

‘Around a fifth of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed already and scientists warn that losing another fifth could trigger a feedback loop, which could see the forest begin to dry out, burn and collapse. As the world’s largest land-based carbon sink this could lead to runaway climate change and the end of life on earth as we know it.

‘It is clear that it is the Bolsonaro government’s deliberate policy of ‘developing the Amazon that is driving the deforestation and the destruction of the Amazon and the lives of the indigenous people who call the forest home and have always protected it. His campaign for the presidency was supported by agribusiness and he made shocking and racist statements encouraging the murder of indigenous people by ranchers.

‘The fires in the Amazon are not accidental but a deliberate policy to eliminate an entire ecosystem to enable the expansion of beef production and the growth in the profits of the beef producers and exporters.

‘Many people in this country, many of your customers, feel shocked and appalled but powerless to make a difference. But we are not powerless, because we ourselves may be buying Brazilian beef grown on deforested land or fed on soya grown on deforested land.

‘As consumers, we need to be able to choose to spend our money for good and to avoid being implicated in the destruction of the Amazon and the killing of indigenous people.

We are writing now to ask you to carry out an audit of your supply chains to identify any products on your shelves that have come from the Amazon or Cerrado regions of Brazil.

‘Such an audit should also be able to identify beef fed with soya produced on deforested land and to distinguish products grown ethically in a way that protects the forest (such as Brazil nuts) from those that have resulted from illegal and irresponsible destruction of that forest.

‘Ideally, we would wish to see damaging products removed from your shelves but, as a minimum, we would request that you identify them clearly by labelling so that customers can avoid them to show their concern about the destruction of the Amazon.

‘In this climate emergency, we all need to play our part and we look forward to your response.

‘With best wishes,

‘Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for South West England and Gibraltar; Alexandra Louise Phillips, Green MEP for South East England; Gina Dowding, Green MEP for North West England; Ellie Chowns, Green MEP for the West Midlands; Scott Ainslie, Green MEP for London; Catherine Rowett, Green MEP for the East of England; Magid Magid, Green MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber’

Click here to read our article about Brazil’s protests over climate policies

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