Published On: 03/03/20218 min read

Amazon indigenous communities and international NGOs sue supermarket giant Casino/Pão de Açúcar/Éxito over deforestation and human rights violations. 

This Wednesday, March 3, 2021, indigenous peoples from the Brazilian and Colombian Amazon and non-governmental organizations from France and the US today filed a lawsuit in the Saint-Etienne court against global retail giant Groupe Casino over selling beef products linked to deforestation and land grabbing.

All about our #DoubleDealing campaign

This is the first time a supermarket chain is taken to court over deforestation and human rights violations under the French due diligence law adopted in March 2017 (“loi sur le devoir de vigilance” in French). Indigenous groups claim compensation for damages done to their customary lands and the impact on their livelihoods.

Environmental destruction and human rights violations

The three slaughterhouses sourced cattle from 592 suppliers responsible for at least 50,000 hectares of deforestation between 2008 and 2020

The lawsuit alleges systemic violations of human rights and environmental laws in Groupe Casino’s supply chains in Brazil and Colombia over a long period of time. According to evidence compiled and analysed by the Center for Climate Crime Analysis (CCCA) for this case, Groupe Casino regularly bought beef from three slaughterhouses owned by JBS, a giant meatpacker. The three slaughterhouses sourced cattle from 592 suppliers responsible for at least 50,000 hectares of deforestation between 2008 and 2020 (1). The deforested area is five times the size of Paris.

Evidence submitted in this lawsuit also shows violations of indigenous rights. In one of the documented cases, customary land owned and managed by the Uru Eu Wau Wau community in the State of Rondônia, Brazil was invaded and put into production by cattle farms supplying beef to Casino’s Pão de Açúcar.

Groupe Casino’s responsibility

The company has dared to write to the plaintiffs that « due to the low number of reports mentioning cattle as a driver of deforestation in Colombia », Casino doesn’t consider it relevant to include the country in the scope of their due diligence plan.

Despite numerous media reports linking Groupe Casino’s products to deforestation and land grabbing, the company has failed to overhaul its monitoring and enforcement policies to ensure there’s no environmental or human rights violations in its entire supply chain. The company has dared to write to the plaintiffs that “due to the low number of reports mentioning cattle as a driver of deforestation in Colombia” Casino doesn’t consider it relevant to include the country in the scope of their due diligence plan. Yet, Colombia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, with cattle being the main cause (2).

In spite of the ever-growing body of evidence linking the world’s biggest meat company, JBS, to deforestation and even slave labour (3), Casino Group still buys from JBS. Furthermore, Groupe Casino has failed to commit to only sell zero-deforestation nor zero-conversion meat in their Pão de Açúcar, Casino or Grupo Éxito stores.

 Groupe Casino is the largest supermarket chain in Brazil and Colombia through its brands Pão de Açúcar and Grupo Éxito respectively. Casino’s South American operations account for nearly half (47%) of the group’s global revenues.

France’s Duty of Vigilance law requires France-based companies with over 5,000 employees to take adequate and effective measures to prevent serious human rights and environmental violations in their entire supply chains. Should they fail to do so, they may be held liable and ordered to pay damages.

Amazon’s tipping point

Cattle ranching is the main driver of deforestation in South America, in particular in Brazil. According to Brazil’s space agency (INPE), deforestation of the Amazon rainforest has surged to a 12-year high. The Amazon is in danger of reaching a tipping point of switching from a canopy rainforest to open grassland.

Last December, the Brazilian government removed any measure to tackle deforestation in the national climate action plan (known as an NDC) under the Paris Agreement, although forest loss continues to be the main source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country.

Comments from the plaintiffs

The breadth and diversity of the coalition is testament to the global footprint and the variety of impacts caused by industrial beef production as well as the need for a collective defense.

Luis Eloy Terena of the Terena people of Brazil, legal advisor at COIAB 

“It is important for COIAB to be part of this lawsuit because the Brazilian Amazon falls within purview for action in defense of the constitutional rights and guarantees of the indigenous peoples who live here. We are responsible as well for defending isolated or initially contacted peoples. As we make clear in the complaint, the demand for beef by Casino and Pão de Açúcar brings deforestation and land grabbing and violence, and the murder of indigenous leaders when they choose to resist. With this lawsuit, we seek to hold  the company accountable for the consequences of these impacts and to bring some relief to the reality confronted by our Indigenous Peoples on their Lands.”

“Cattle ranching, monocultures and other extractive industries are putting our lives at risk and exterminating indigenous peoples. Therefore this legal action over neglecting the demands in the meat supply chain, which come from cattle ranching, is fully supported by our organization.”

Fany Kuiru Castro of the Uitoto people of Colombia, director at OPIAC

Boris Patentreger, co-founder of Envol Vert 

“In 2021, in a world where we can technically trace and monitor everything, an international group called Casino, which has seen tremendous growth in South America in the last years, fails to eliminate deforestation from all its supply chain. That’s unacceptable!”

The number of deforestation and human rights abuses cases that have been documented in Casino’s supply chain in Brazil shows that its alleged vigilance measures are neither adequate, nor effective. Sherpa successfully advocated for years for the adoption of the French Duty of Vigilance Law and this case is emblematic of the violations that it precisely aims to avoid.”

Lucie Chatelain, lawyer at Sherpa

Sebastien Mabile, lawyer of Seattle Avocats 

“This lawsuit will demonstrate the breadth and depth of France’s Duty of Vigilance law, which applies to the entire supply chain, both in France and abroad. The law imposes on multinational corporations actions to prevent breaches proportional to the risks identified, as well as strict social and judiciary controls. The seriousness of the violations documented in this case leads us to initiate the first liability action on the basis of this text.”

“JBS is not only the largest meat company in the world but it’s also one of the worst forest destroyers in Brazil. For this reason Groupe Casino must drop JBS altogether. But we also call on other leading European supermarkets such as Carrefour, Tesco, Albert Heijn and Lidl to break their links to deforestation and drop JBS, the slaughter of the Amazon.”

Nico Muzi, Europe director of Mighty Earth 

Cecilia Rinaudo, general coordinator of Notre Affaire à Tous 

This case is a tragic example of the interdependence between the environment and human rights, both protected by the Duty of diligence law. Casino only identifies slave labour as an associated risk in their supply chain without taking any measure to eradicate it. Moreover, the firm failed to identify land grabbing as a threat to human rights despite many reports on this well-known issue. Casino cannot stay passive and must adopt concrete measures to prevent these major risks.”

“France adopted the Duty of Vigilance law in 2017 and the National Strategy Against Imported Deforestation in 2018. These public policies must be translated into concrete actions by companies like Casino to finally stop deforestation.”

Adeline Favrel, forest campaign coordinator of France Nature Environnement 

Klervi Le Guenic, campaigner of Canopée

“Casino is not the only retailer responsible, they all have the power to change things. Carrefour is one of the largest retailers in Brazil and is also particularly exposed to deforestation risks. They have to ditch the meat companies linked to Amazon destruction.”

Coalition’s members are :

  • Canopée Forêts Vivantes
  • COIAB (Coordination des organisations autochtones de l’Amazonie brésilienne)

  • CPT (Commission Pastorale de la Terre)

  • Envol Vert

  • FEPIPA (Fédération des Peuples Autochtones du Pará)

  • FEPOIMT (Fédération des Peuples Autochtones du Mato Grosso)

  • France Nature Environnement

  • Mighty Earth

  • Notre Affaire à Tous

  • OPIAC (Organisation Nationale des Peuples Autochtones de l’Amazonie Colombienne)

  • Seattle Avocats

  • Sherpa

All about our #DoubleDealing campaign

Amazon indigenous communities and international NGOs sue supermarket giant Casino/Pão de Açúcar/Éxito over deforestation and human rights violations. 

This Wednesday, March 3, 2021, indigenous peoples from the Brazilian and Colombian Amazon and non-governmental organizations from France and the US today filed a lawsuit in the Saint-Etienne court against global retail giant Groupe Casino over selling beef products linked to deforestation and land grabbing.

All about our #DoubleDealing campaign

This is the first time a supermarket chain is taken to court over deforestation and human rights violations under the French due diligence law adopted in March 2017 (“loi sur le devoir de vigilance” in French). Indigenous groups claim compensation for damages done to their customary lands and the impact on their livelihoods.

Environmental destruction and human rights violations

The three slaughterhouses sourced cattle from 592 suppliers responsible for at least 50,000 hectares of deforestation between 2008 and 2020

The lawsuit alleges systemic violations of human rights and environmental laws in Groupe Casino’s supply chains in Brazil and Colombia over a long period of time. According to evidence compiled and analysed by the Center for Climate Crime Analysis (CCCA) for this case, Groupe Casino regularly bought beef from three slaughterhouses owned by JBS, a giant meatpacker. The three slaughterhouses sourced cattle from 592 suppliers responsible for at least 50,000 hectares of deforestation between 2008 and 2020 (1). The deforested area is five times the size of Paris.

Evidence submitted in this lawsuit also shows violations of indigenous rights. In one of the documented cases, customary land owned and managed by the Uru Eu Wau Wau community in the State of Rondônia, Brazil was invaded and put into production by cattle farms supplying beef to Casino’s Pão de Açúcar.

Groupe Casino’s responsibility

The company has dared to write to the plaintiffs that « due to the low number of reports mentioning cattle as a driver of deforestation in Colombia », Casino doesn’t consider it relevant to include the country in the scope of their due diligence plan.

Despite numerous media reports linking Groupe Casino’s products to deforestation and land grabbing, the company has failed to overhaul its monitoring and enforcement policies to ensure there’s no environmental or human rights violations in its entire supply chain. The company has dared to write to the plaintiffs that “due to the low number of reports mentioning cattle as a driver of deforestation in Colombia” Casino doesn’t consider it relevant to include the country in the scope of their due diligence plan. Yet, Colombia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, with cattle being the main cause (2).

In spite of the ever-growing body of evidence linking the world’s biggest meat company, JBS, to deforestation and even slave labour (3), Casino Group still buys from JBS. Furthermore, Groupe Casino has failed to commit to only sell zero-deforestation nor zero-conversion meat in their Pão de Açúcar, Casino or Grupo Éxito stores.

 Groupe Casino is the largest supermarket chain in Brazil and Colombia through its brands Pão de Açúcar and Grupo Éxito respectively. Casino’s South American operations account for nearly half (47%) of the group’s global revenues.

France’s Duty of Vigilance law requires France-based companies with over 5,000 employees to take adequate and effective measures to prevent serious human rights and environmental violations in their entire supply chains. Should they fail to do so, they may be held liable and ordered to pay damages.

Amazon’s tipping point

Cattle ranching is the main driver of deforestation in South America, in particular in Brazil. According to Brazil’s space agency (INPE), deforestation of the Amazon rainforest has surged to a 12-year high. The Amazon is in danger of reaching a tipping point of switching from a canopy rainforest to open grassland.

Last December, the Brazilian government removed any measure to tackle deforestation in the national climate action plan (known as an NDC) under the Paris Agreement, although forest loss continues to be the main source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country.

Comments from the plaintiffs

The breadth and diversity of the coalition is testament to the global footprint and the variety of impacts caused by industrial beef production as well as the need for a collective defense.

Luis Eloy Terena of the Terena people of Brazil, legal advisor at COIAB 

“It is important for COIAB to be part of this lawsuit because the Brazilian Amazon falls within purview for action in defense of the constitutional rights and guarantees of the indigenous peoples who live here. We are responsible as well for defending isolated or initially contacted peoples. As we make clear in the complaint, the demand for beef by Casino and Pão de Açúcar brings deforestation and land grabbing and violence, and the murder of indigenous leaders when they choose to resist. With this lawsuit, we seek to hold  the company accountable for the consequences of these impacts and to bring some relief to the reality confronted by our Indigenous Peoples on their Lands.”

“Cattle ranching, monocultures and other extractive industries are putting our lives at risk and exterminating indigenous peoples. Therefore this legal action over neglecting the demands in the meat supply chain, which come from cattle ranching, is fully supported by our organization.”

Fany Kuiru Castro of the Uitoto people of Colombia, director at OPIAC

Boris Patentreger, co-founder of Envol Vert 

“In 2021, in a world where we can technically trace and monitor everything, an international group called Casino, which has seen tremendous growth in South America in the last years, fails to eliminate deforestation from all its supply chain. That’s unacceptable!”

The number of deforestation and human rights abuses cases that have been documented in Casino’s supply chain in Brazil shows that its alleged vigilance measures are neither adequate, nor effective. Sherpa successfully advocated for years for the adoption of the French Duty of Vigilance Law and this case is emblematic of the violations that it precisely aims to avoid.”

Lucie Chatelain, lawyer at Sherpa

Sebastien Mabile, lawyer of Seattle Avocats 

“This lawsuit will demonstrate the breadth and depth of France’s Duty of Vigilance law, which applies to the entire supply chain, both in France and abroad. The law imposes on multinational corporations actions to prevent breaches proportional to the risks identified, as well as strict social and judiciary controls. The seriousness of the violations documented in this case leads us to initiate the first liability action on the basis of this text.”

“JBS is not only the largest meat company in the world but it’s also one of the worst forest destroyers in Brazil. For this reason Groupe Casino must drop JBS altogether. But we also call on other leading European supermarkets such as Carrefour, Tesco, Albert Heijn and Lidl to break their links to deforestation and drop JBS, the slaughter of the Amazon.”

Nico Muzi, Europe director of Mighty Earth 

Cecilia Rinaudo, general coordinator of Notre Affaire à Tous 

This case is a tragic example of the interdependence between the environment and human rights, both protected by the Duty of diligence law. Casino only identifies slave labour as an associated risk in their supply chain without taking any measure to eradicate it. Moreover, the firm failed to identify land grabbing as a threat to human rights despite many reports on this well-known issue. Casino cannot stay passive and must adopt concrete measures to prevent these major risks.”

“France adopted the Duty of Vigilance law in 2017 and the National Strategy Against Imported Deforestation in 2018. These public policies must be translated into concrete actions by companies like Casino to finally stop deforestation.”

Adeline Favrel, forest campaign coordinator of France Nature Environnement 

Klervi Le Guenic, campaigner of Canopée

“Casino is not the only retailer responsible, they all have the power to change things. Carrefour is one of the largest retailers in Brazil and is also particularly exposed to deforestation risks. They have to ditch the meat companies linked to Amazon destruction.”

Coalition’s members are :

  • Canopée Forêts Vivantes
  • COIAB (Coordination des organisations autochtones de l’Amazonie brésilienne)

  • CPT (Commission Pastorale de la Terre)

  • Envol Vert

  • FEPIPA (Fédération des Peuples Autochtones du Pará)

  • FEPOIMT (Fédération des Peuples Autochtones du Mato Grosso)

  • France Nature Environnement

  • Mighty Earth

  • Notre Affaire à Tous

  • OPIAC (Organisation Nationale des Peuples Autochtones de l’Amazonie Colombienne)

  • Seattle Avocats

  • Sherpa

All about our #DoubleDealing campaign

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