In the 12 months to August 2020, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon increased 9.5 percent, destroying an area larger than Jamaica, according to government data. / © AFP/File
Dozens of European food retailers on Wednesday threatened Brazil with a boycott of agricultural products should it pass a land reform bill which they argue would worsen deforestation.
An open letter coordinated by Retail Soy Group and sent to Brazil's National Congress included the signatures of UK supermarkets Asda, Sainsbury and Tesco, German peers Aldi and Lidl as well as Co-op Switzerland.
Retail Soy Group had already written to Brazilian politicians last year over similar land reform proposals that were subsequently withdrawn, amended and resubmitted.
The new letter said there had been extremely high levels of forest fires and deforestation in Brazil over the past year, but the targets to reduce them and enforcement budgets were "increasingly inadequate".
"It is therefore extremely concerning to see that the same measure we responded to last year is being put forward again as the legislative proposal with potentially even greater threats to the Amazon than before," the letter said.
Deforestation in Brazil has surged under President Jair Bolsonaro, who has slashed funding for environmental programs since he took office in 2019 and is pushing to open protected lands to mining and agribusiness.
In the 12 months to August 2020, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon increased 9.5 percent, destroying an area larger than Jamaica, according to government data.
At a US-hosted climate summit last month, Bolsonaro recommitted his country to a previous goal of stopping illegal deforestation by 2030.
But the European food retailers said in their letter that the latest measures ran "counter to the narrative and rhetoric" from Brazil at the summit.
And should the law be passed, the signatories "will have no choice but to reconsider... support and use of the Brazilian agricultural commodity supply chain".