Animal Ag Companies Fined $29M for Destroying Amazon

The government of Brazil slapped a hefty fine on feed suppliers to meat and dairy companies that sell to McDonald's, Burger King, and Walmart for destroying the country's biodiverse Cerrado region for profit.

Brazilian government agency Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) announced this week that it will impose a $29 million fine on a group of soy farmers and traders, including United States-based animal agriculture feed suppliers Cargill and Bunge, for their part in destroying the country’s protected natural areas. The move follows an intensive 2017 investigation conducted by environmental organization Mighty Earth that exposed the practices of Cargill and Bunge—which are part of the supply chain for meat and dairy products sold to corporations such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Walmart, and Unilever—in Brazil’s Cerrado region, where they actively financed the destruction of native wetlands, displaced local populations, and cleared approximately 200 million hectares (15 times the size of England) of biodiverse land for soy production. “McDonald’s, Carrefour, and other companies that sell meat and dairy need to be asked why they are still selling products raised on soy from Cargill or Bunge, when these companies have driven so much destruction,” Mighty Earth CEO Hurowitz said. “Companies like McDonald’s and Carrefour that sell products connected to Cargill and Bunge are aiding and abetting their criminal activity. Responsible meat companies shouldn’t make their customers complicit in environmental crimes with every bite of a Big Mac.” Luckily, only one in five millennials have sampled a Big Mac, according to a 2016 McDonald's company memo, and the demographic continues to drive global demand for plant-based foods that don’t contribute to rainforest deforestation.

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