Would you like some slavery beef?

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Would you like some slavery beef?

From slavery to deforestation, Leonardo Sakamoto writes about the terrible effects of cattle farming in Brazil.


Credit: Piqsels

From history we know that cattle farming makes slaves of the biggest number of workers in Brazil and it is one of the main reasons for deforestation in the Amazon.

During the past 10 years, civil society and the media have forced meat companies and supermarkets to begin to stop using supply chains which include slavery and deforestation. Some companies check ‘dirty lists’ and have satellite monitoring systems.

But the problem continues. I now lead Repórter Brasil, an NGO started by journalists. Since 2003 it has looked at the beef from farms to make policies to fight slave labour and illegal deforestation.

Today a group of Brazilian, French, and American environmental and civil society organizations is suing the French corporation Casino. Casino is buying meat which involves environmental damage and is against human rights. The information comes from Repórter Brasil’s investigations.

In our latest report, we look at new cases. In April 2020, Pai e Filho farm, in Cariri, Tocantins state, bought cattle farm Umuarama in Aliança do Tocantins. At the time, Umuarama was on the ‘dirty list’, a Brazilian government list of companies they think are using slave labour.

In October 2020, Pai e Filho sent cattle for slaughtering by Cooperfrigu Foods. Cooperfrigu Foods exports to over 100 countries. Umuarama also sent cattle to meatpacker Boi Brasil. This was a month after they were on the ‘dirty list’.

The Tocantins State Environment Department fined Umuarama in 2018 for illegal deforestation of 60 hectares. But the farms and the meat companies did not reply to Repórter Brasil when they asked them about it.

Another case is the Rodoserv IV farm. The federal government found it was using slave labour. The government rescued six workers, including four Paraguayan migrants. In 2019 and 2020 Rodoserv IV sent cattle to JBS, the world’s largest meat packing company, in Mato Grosso do Sul. Valdir Teixeira da Silva Júnior is the manager of the Rodoserv Group. He said that they were not using the farm workers as slaves. But JBS said that it did not accept cattle from companies on the slave labour dirty list.

Over the past 18 years, Repórter Brasil’s investigations have shown that big supermarkets in Europe and the UK sell meat products from deforestation, slave labour, human trafficking, and overexploitation. In 2017 Waitrose supermarkets stopped selling their own-brand corned beef because they were worried that it could have meat from slave labour on Brazilian cattle farms. Lidl and Sainsbury’s supermarkets have sold corned beef from Brazil in their British stores. JBS was also involved in many investigations into illegal deforestation.

Lidl told Repórter Brasil, ‘We take this problem very seriously and we are in close contact with companies such as JBS about social and environmental problems such as deforestation.’ Sainsbury’s said, ‘If we find companies refuse to look at these problems, we will think about not working with them.’



(This article is in easier English so it is possible that we changed the words, the text structure, and the quotes.)