Campaigners involved in a lawsuit said Indigenous people from Brazil and Colombia have sued retailer Casino in a French court on Wednesday over the selling of beef connected to land grabbing and deforestation in the Amazon.
This is the first time a French supermarket chain has been taken to court over deforestation, loss of land and livelihood under a 2017 law in France that requires its companies to avoid human rights and environmental violations in their supply chains.
Casino controls Brazil’s largest food retailer, Grupo Pao de Acucar (GPA) and Colombian retailer Almacenes Exito, said it actively fought against deforestation by cattle ranchers in Brazil and Colombia.
The lawsuit alleges Casino regularly bought beef from three slaughterhouses owned by a major Brazilian meatpacker.
According to the lawsuit the slaughterhouses sourced cattle from nearly 600 suppliers responsible for at least 50,000 hectares (123,550 acres) which is an area five times the size of Paris of deforestation between 2008 and 2020.
“The demand for beef by Casino and Pão de Açúcar brings deforestation and land grabbing and violence”, said Luis Eloy Terena of COIAB, a body coordinating indigenous groups in the Brazilian Amazon.
Casino said GPA applied a rigorous policy of controlling the origin of beef delivered by its suppliers, adding Brazilian beef was not sold in its French stores.Sebastian Mabile, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said Casino and its subsidiary had failed in their obligations to investigate their supply chains.
Mabile: “We want them to pay approximately 3 million euros to the organisations that represent indigenous peoples and ensure that their activities do not entail deforestation.”
Companies are under growing pressure from national legislation and campaigners to protect the Amazon.
French bank BNP Paribas in February pledged to only finance companies producing beef or soybeans in Latin America that adopt a strategy of zero deforestation by 2025.
Plaintiffs to the lawsuit also include French and U.S. campaign groups.