Brazilian meat giant JBS has made a commitment with Greenpeace over its sustainability efforts following a month of disputes.

Last month, green campaigners urged JBS to sign up to a deal to stop harvesting the Amazon.

Bertin, a leading Brazilian meat processor set to merge with JBS, and Marfrig, the world's fourth-largest beef producer, had already backed Greenpeace's call for a moratorium on deals with farms involved in new deforestation in the Amazon.

The move followed a Greenpeace report published in June entitled Slaughtering the Amazon, which sought to link the destruction of the rain forest to the supply chains of some of the world's leading consumer goods companies.

Initially silent on the subject, JBS defended its record on sourcing cattle and stood by its sustainability efforts amid criticism from Greenpeace campaigners.

However, the company yesterday (24 September) said it has now agreed to make a commitment with the non-governmental organization with respect to basic criteria in its operations in the Amazon biome.

The criteria includes the adoption of zero deforestation in the Amazon within the entire supply chain and the rejection of products originated from properties involved in the occupation of indigenous land and protected areas.

JBS has also agreed that its cattle and beef products will only be sourced from ranches or rural properties committed to the adoption of a reliable production traceability system, which will include environmental demands that will "eliminate" deforestation.
JBS said it will formally communicate the requirements to its suppliers and those who do not comply will be excluded from the company's supplier list.

A spokesperson for Greenpeace told just-food that the announcement was a "big step forward" in the battle to save the Amazon.

"The expansion of cattle ranches into the rainforest was becoming a massive problem for local people, biodiversity and the global climate. Huge swathes of rainforest were being destroyed to make way for pasture. Instead, this move, by the world's largest beef producer and exporter, sends a strong signal to farmers that deforestation will no longer lead to quick profits.

"The potential benefits of this are immense, but we need to keep the pressure on JBS and the other companies in this sector to make sure this is permanent."