The Swiss company pointed out that 99% of the meat it purchases is “classified as free of deforestation” and that it no longer works with its Brazilian supplier.
A journalistic investigation reveals that a supplier to the Swiss food giant Nestle used beef from a Brazilian indigenous land whose demarcation process is being challenged by farmers.
The Myky people have lived for centuries in the Menku territory, a huge area in the state of Mato Grosso, on the border between the Amazon and the Cerrado (the two largest biomes in Brazil). But for decades they have seen how the rapid expansion of agribusiness deforests their ancestral lands to convert them into plantations or grazing fields for cattle.
“That pasture where the whites live was also our village, but now they are raising cattle. The land belonged to us: the indigenous peoples,” Xinuxi Myky said in the framework of this joint investigation between the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ, for its acronym in English), The Guardian, NBC News and O Joio e O Trigo, published on Thursday.
The investigation indicates that cattle raised on these lands ended up in a slaughterhouse that is part of a global supply chain “that includes the food and beverage giant Nestle, which uses beef in its baby porridge, pet food and condiments.” .
This slaughterhouse is owned by Marfrig, the second largest meat company in Brazil. The company maintains that it does not purchase cattle from ranches that have illegally invaded indigenous lands or are involved in illegal deforestation. But according to the investigative article, “hundreds of cattle were taken to the Marfrig slaughterhouse”, in the municipality of Tangara da Serra, which is listed among Nestle’s suppliers.
“Several of the 700 Marfrig livestock suppliers we analyzed were linked to more than 150 square kilometers of deforestation in recent years. Marfrig said it could not respond to these allegations without more detailed information,” the text reads.
For its part, the Swiss giant responded to the demands of the investigative journalists by mail. “Nestle indicates that removed Marfrig as supplier of meat in 2021 and that this will be reflected in the annual update of the list of suppliers,” they argued.
The company pointed out that 99% of the meat it purchases is “classified as free of deforestation” and that “it is taking further steps to help ensure that no meat ingredients from Marfrig enter its supply chain,” it adds.
According to the investigation, other large companies such as McDonald’s and Burger King are part of that supply chain. When questioned by the journalists, the first responded that between 2021 and 2022 it was not nourished by overlapping farms in the Menku territory. Burger King responded that it does not comment on its strategic suppliers.
fight for the land
This is one more in the long list of episodes of struggle for land between indigenous people and defenders of the environment and landowners. Since President Jair Bolsonaro came to power in 2018 with his speech in favor of commercially exploiting the protected areas of the Amazon and the Cerrado (the Brazilian savannah) and not demarcating “not one more centimeter of land”, tension has increased a lot. : land invasions have skyrocketedwhile the environmental monitoring bodies have seen their budgets drastically reduced.
Environmentalists maintain that indigenous reserves are the best ‘guardians’ of the environment.
But the point is that the Menku territory was officially recognized by the Brazilian Government in the 1970s, during the military dictatorship, but due to lack of technical studies, its demarcation process has been suspended for decades. The MyKy, made up of some 130 members, are calling for 150,000 hectares to be demarcated to protect the Menku indigenous land, located in the municipality of Brasnorte.
This lack of definition encouraged the ranchers, who settled there and are now challenging that demarcation in court. And he also dissuaded the government from expelling them. In addition, according to the text, Marfrig told journalists that he “only considers indigenous lands those that were approved by the presidency of the Republic.”
The investigation includes statements by anthropologist Andre Lopes, who works with the Myky people. “The relationship with local ranchers is unstable, unpredictable, and can be persecutory and openly hostile in some cases,” he explained.
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