JBS Buying Illegal Amazon Cattle, Greenpeace Says

JBS SA, the world’s largest beef producer, has failed to meet a commitment to stop buying cattle from farms accused of illegal logging in the Amazon, ranching in protected indigenous land or using slave-like labor, Greenpeace International said.

JBS bought 687 head of cattle from farms in breach of environment or labor regulation between June and December of last year, the group said in an e-mailed statement today. The Sao Paulo-based company also bought 9,742 head of cattle from suppliers that got some of their livestock from such farms, Greenpeace said.

JBS denied the accusations and said it will seek compensation for damages caused by the Greenpeace report.

“The information mentioning JBS in the report is false, misleading, incorrect and leads the public to an erroneous conclusion,” JBS said in a regulatory filing today. “The company will challenge Greenpeace in court and will seek every conceivable legal means to rectify material damage to its image.”

Logging and fires to clear land for ranching in the Amazon, the world’s largest rain forest, destroyed 6,418 square kilometers (2,478 square miles) of vegetation in the 12 months through July 2011, about eight times the area of New York, according to Brazilian government data. Brazil is the world’s second-largest exporter of beef after Australia.

In 2009, JBS, Minerva SA and Marfrig Alimentos SA signed an agreement with Brazilian prosecutors to stop buying livestock raised in protected areas or ranches that didn’t comply with labor regulations.

Greenpeace hasn’t found any evidence that Marfrig or Minerva failed to comply with the agreement, according to an e-mailed response to questions.

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