Chickens grown on deforested land or fed corn and soybeans of unknown origin will end up on British plates and supermarket shelves, according to new research into industrial poultry farming in Brazil.

A joint study by Reporter Brasil and Ecostorm, released Thursday, looks at how the global food chain is linked to increased deforestation in countries that are home to the world’s major biomes and food producers.

The study found that suppliers of soybeans and corn used in chicken feed manufactured by JBS, a U.S. food processing company, were associated with deforested areas of the Amazon and the Cerrado, and vast grasslands, swamps and savannahs in the eastern and southern stands.

JBS told reporters he told Brazil that it requires grain suppliers to meet high standards and sign a soybean moratorium. A moratorium prohibits the sale of soybeans grown on land that has been logged since 2008.

JBS is the world’s largest meat company, exporting Brazilian beef, pork and chicken to companies around the world, including Europe, China and the Middle East. Seara, a subsidiary acquired in 2013, produces more than 5 million chickens a day from his 9,000 poultry farms across Brazil. Seara chicken is sold whole, fillet and processed to supply some of the world’s largest supermarkets and popular fast food chains.

The UK has imported at least $500 million worth of her Seara products over the past three years, according to a study. Customers include wholesalers, food service providers and food processors, some of which supply schools, hospitals, nursing homes and supermarkets.

Brazil is the world’s largest soybean producer and the world’s third largest corn producer, and the study included two farms producing the former and three farms producing the latter.

Most animal feeds used in Brazil’s intensive farming system consist of 60% corn, 20% soybeans, and 20% other micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals.

In one case, in the agricultural state of Mato Grosso, 98.7 hectares (243,890 acres) of land were illegally logged and soybeans were grown, which he sold to JBS suppliers to make feed, the report said. The investigation also claims to have found numerous instances of JBS purchasing corn from illegally logged farms.

JBS told The Guardian:
“JBS requires that 100% of its grain procurement contracts meet social and environmental standards in all Brazilian biomes, not subject to any federal or state bans, not located on protected areas, indigenous lands or using labor in conditions resembling slavery. Furthermore, we are requiring those active in the Amazon biome to sign a soy moratorium.”

Regarding purchases from producers, they said, “At the time of purchase, the farms supplying grain to the company met the social and environmental standards of JBS. The three companies mentioned below are subject to environmental regulations and currently the embargo has cut them off from JBS’ purchasing system. The other two farms mentioned have no record of doing business with JBS.”

This is the first time chickens produced in Brazil and exported to the UK have been linked to deforestation. But this is not the first time UK companies have been caught up in a complex network of confusing labeling practices that can lead to supply chain issues, land title disputes and question marks over clean sourcing of their products.

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Source: Guardian

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