Company – TargetThis profile is a priority campaign target
Company – TargetThis profile is a priority campaign target
Why this profile?
JBS exemplifies the wide array of problems associated with industrial meat production. The company has well documented links to illegal deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, slave and child labour, and violence against and encroachment of Indigenous lands. It has also been embroiled in several major corruption scandals and is the largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions in the meat and dairy sector. The company has repeatedly failed to tackle deforestation, human rights violations, or its indirect emissions throughout its direct and indirect supply chains.
What must happen
Banks and other financial institutions should immediately drop JBS as a client. They must also have robust policies in place that exclude companies like JBS which repeatedly break the law and fail to meet international standards or their own commitments related to the environment and human rights protection.
|Sectors||Beef Industry , Commodities Trading|
listed on Brazil Stock Exchange
JBS is the largest meat processing company in the world, producing factory processed beef, pork and poultry products as well as selling by-products from the processing of these meats. Its products are distributed under various brand names, such as Friboi, Swift, Bertin, Pilgrim's, and others. The company also operates related businesses, such as leather, biodiesel, personal care and cleaning, solid waste management, and metal packaging. It has 400 production units, facilities, and offices, of which 230 are used for the production of beef, pork, lamb, and poultry products. JBS is headquartered in São Paulo and has 150 industrial plants around the world.
Impact on human rights and communities
Slave labour The use of slave labour is common in the livestock industry. Despite claims that it has monitoring mechanisms in place that block suppliers including on the “dirty list” – a federal government register that lists employers caught perpetrating this type of crime – numerous reports have repeatedly found that JBS sources from ranchers using slave labour. In 2022, Global Witness reported that JBS had bought cattle from a family of ranchers called Seronni who were alleged to have used slave labour as well as being previously accused of land-grabbing. Greenpeace has also reported that JBS has sourced almost 9,000 cattle from rancher Chaules Pozzebon or his family. Pozzebon is currently serving a 99-year sentence for crimes including leading a criminal gang and has been separately convicted of using slave labour.
Encroachment of Indigenous Peoples land JBS has been accused of sourcing cattle from Amazon land that has been seized from Indigenous Peoples and violent landgrabbers. In 2020, a report by Amnesty International found that JBS has contributed to human rights abuses – including intimidation, threats, forced displacement and murder – against Indigenous peoples and residents of three Indigenous reserves in the Brazilian state of Rondônia by participating in the economic incentives for cattle illegally grazed in protected areas. Investigations by Repórter Brasil have exposed how JBS has bought cattle from the Três Rios farm in Canarana that has illegally raised cattle on the Naruvôtu Pequizal Indigenous Land. The damage caused by this activity has affected almost 10% of the total area of this Indigenous territory and the rancher has been fined R$10.9 million.
Poor working conditions JBS has been linked to poor working conditions in Brazil and the US. A 2019 report by Oxfam-US found that violations of workers' basic rights, such as denying bathroom breaks, were being violated in poultry facilities including some owned by JBS subsidiary Pilgrim’s Pride. Human Rights Watch has also reported on the rate of serious injuries to workers in US meat and poultry plants, including facilities owned by JBS subsidiaries. It has been reported that JBS US subsidiaries have been fined nearly US$34 million for employment-related offences since 2000.
Impact on climate
Methane emissions JBS is responsible for enormous greenhouse gas emissions, primarily in the form of methane from livestock. A study by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and the Changing Markets Foundation found that JBS’ annual emissions footprint for 2021 was an estimated 287.9 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, which exceeds the overall emissions of Spain. The analysis found that, compared with 14 other global meat and dairy giants, JBS alone is responsible for 40% of the estimated livestock emissions. While JBS has committed to reaching net zero by 2040, this commitment only takes into account its direct emissions, failing to tackle its indirect supply chain emissions which account for 97% of its impact.
“Green” bonds In January 2023, Mighty Earth submitted a complaint to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) about a JBS “green bond” on the basis that the company has concealed the true scale of its emissions footprint since 2017 by not disclosing the number of animals it slaughters annually, which are the primary source of its GHG emissions. These concerns were echoed by the US National Advertising Division which recommended that JBS stop using its 2040 net zero target in its advertising as the company’s record “does not support the message conveyed” about its climate aspirations.
Impact on nature and environment
Deforestation As far back as 2009, Greenpeace Brazil revealed how JBS and other major meatpackers frequently bought cattle from ranches linked to deforestation. Following this investigation, JBS signed the voluntary Zero Deforestation Cattle Agreement, in which it committed to not source from farms involved in any deforestation, slave labour, or invasions of indigenous lands and protected areas. Despite this, JBS continues to be linked to illegal deforestation throughout its supply chain on multiple occasions. It is estimated that between 2008 and 2020, JBS’ total deforestation footprint is as high as 200,000 hectares in its direct supply chain and 1.5 million hectares in its indirect supply chain. In December 2020, Global Witness reported that, in just one Amazon state between 2017 and 2019, JBS bought from 327 ranches with 20,000 football fields worth of illegal deforestation. The investigation also found that JBS fails to monitor approximately 3,270 ranches further up its supply chain containing an estimated 98,000 hectares of deforestation. JBS is ranked as the worst performing company in Mighty Earth’s Soy and Cattle Deforestation tracker, scoring only 1 out of a possible 100, which scores companies based on the extent, severity and response to forest clearance in their supply chains.
JBS’ net zero plan falls short with regards to its commitment on deforestation. Its plans allow the company to continue to source cattle linked to illegal deforestation in the Amazon and other biomes until 2025 and it has not committed to eliminate all deforestation from its entire supply chain until 2035. However, given the historical commitments made by JBS, there are serious concerns that these commitments will not be met.
Water pollution JBS has been accused of causing water pollution from its slaughterhouses and meat processing facilities in the US. A 2018 report by the Environmental Integrity Project linked eleven JBS-owned slaughterhouses to the nitrogen pollution in numerous rivers across the US. Many of these problems were linked to Pilgrim’s Pride, a JBS subsidiary and one of the largest poultry producers in the US. Mighty Earth has reported that, in 2018 alone, Pilgrim’s Pride’s poultry division produced over 725,000 tonnes of manure and discharged 16,973,640 lbs of water polluting toxins from its facilities between 2012 and 2017.
Impact on pandemics
The further expansion of intensive livestock farming increases the risk of new zoonotic diseases emerging, directly because the expansion of land used for grazing near nature areas increases contact between cattle and wild animals, risking spillover events, and indirectly because the circumstances in which livestock is kept in industrial meat production facilities creates breeding grounds for new varieties of viruses and spillover risks to humans working closely with livestock. The expansion of soy production into previously forested land to be used as feedstock also increases risks, as deforestation and agricultural system change are both considered significant factors in the emergence of zoonotic and vector-borne diseases. In addition, the World Health Organisation has stated that the overuse of antibiotics for livestock is considered one of the biggest current threats to global health, food security, and development. JBS has been ranked as ‘High Risk’ on the FAIRR Initiative’s Emerging Disease Risk Ranking, meaning they score poorly across a set of seven criteria vital to preventing future zoonotic pandemics such as welfare conditions for both animals and workers.
COVID-19 The COVID-19 pandemic showed that workers in slaughterhouses were disproportionately impacted by the virus due to poor working conditions that allowed the virus to thrive and spread. During the pandemic, JBS’ priority was to keep meat processing facilities running with as many workers as possible, with workers in both Brazil and the US reporting that they are forced to work while sick and measures on social distancing and wearing masks were not in place. In 2020, there were two outbreaks in JBS’ largest US plants in Colorado and Minnesota. In July 2020, worker advocacy groups filed a civil rights complaint against both Tyson and JBS on their failure to prevent coronavirus outbreaks among their largely black and Latino workers, alleging that this amounted to racial discrimination. JBS was fined, but later contested this and refused to pay the fine. In Brazil, JBS was the only meatpacking company that resisted an agreement with the Brazilian Public Labour Ministry (MPT) to improve worker safety, until MPT stopped operations at 12 of JBS’ plants and the company took some steps to protect its workers. In August 2020, the MPT estimated that one in five Brazilian meatpacking workers had contracted COVID-19. Outbreaks at the meatpacking facilities made up a large proportion of cases in the local areas around the plant, in both the US and Brazil.
Corruption and bribery The scale of allegations of bribery against JBS stretches from meat inspectors to the highest office in Brazil. Operation ‘Car Wash’ was set up to investigate the bribery scandal that engulfed the Brazilian oil firm Petrobras in 2014. An astonishing network was revealed, stretching far beyond a single company and ultimately bringing down the Brazilian government. In January 2017, JBS executives approached prosecutors offering information on corruption in exchange for leniency as part of Operation Car Wash. One executive admitted to bribing 1,829 politicians to the tune of almost US$100 million. In May 2017, Joesley and Wesley Batista, along with five other executives, signed a plea deal admitting to bribery of politicians. In the same month, JBS was investigated by enforcement authorities in Operation Bullish under suspicion of receiving illegal advantages when securing financing from BNDES. JBS later agreed to pay 10.3 billion Reals (US$3.2 billion) in fines for its role in the various corruption scandals.
2023-01-18 00:00:00 | Mighty Earth files complaint with US Securities and Exchange Commission against JBS ‘green bonds’
Senior executives at Mighty Earth have filed a whistleblower complaint to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), calling for a full investigation into alleged misleading and fraudulent “green bonds” issued by the Brazilian meat giant JBS. Evidence presented to the SEC details how JBS, the world’s largest meat processor with operations in over 20 countries, issued $3.2 billion in four separate debt issuances or “green bonds” in 2021, referring to them as Sustainability-Linked Bonds (SLBs) tied to its stated goal to cut its emissions and achieve “Net Zero by 2040.” The heart of the complaint centers on the fact that JBS based the bond offerings on its commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2040 – but that its emissions have in fact increased in recent years and it excluded ‘Scope 3’ supply chain emissions that comprise upwards of 97% of its climate footprint. It also omitted key information from investors about the actual number of animals it slaughters each year, denying US investors vital information to make fully informed decisions about JBS’s net zero and climate-related claims as they decided whether to purchase these SLBs.
2022-12-15 00:00:00 | Brazil audit finds 17% of cattle bought by JBS came from 'irregular' ranches
Nearly 17% of the cattle bought by JBS SA in Brazil's Para state in the Amazon rainforest allegedly came from ranches with "irregularities" such as illegal deforestation, according to an audit by federal prosecutors. The audit, which examined cattle purchases between July 2019 and June 2020, said that the world's largest meatpacker allegedly bought some 93,734 head from irregular ranchers.
2022-04-21 00:00:00 | JBS increased greenhouse gas emissions by 51% over the last five years
JBS has increased its greenhouse gas emissions by a staggering 51% over the last five years and is now responsible for greater emissions than Italy's annual climate footprint, new research finds. Using an UN-approved methodology, new research contained in a media brief by IATP, Feedback and investigative website DeSmog, found that JBS – which processed 26.8 million cattle, 46.7 million pigs and 4.9 billion chickens last year – increased its annual GHG emissions by 51% in five years from 280 million metric tonnes (mmts) in 2016 to around 421.6 mmts in 2021. This is more than the annual climate footprint of Italy or Spain and close to that of France (at 443 mmt) and the UK (at 453 mmt). It is approximately equivalent to fossil fuel giant Total’s 2020 emissions.