Fanning the Flames

The corporations destroying the Amazon and worsening the COVID-19 pandemic

Key Findings

  • Between July and August, the number of fires in Brazil surged to more than double the total recorded in the previous months of 2020.
  • Fires were highly concentrated in three distinct ‘hotspots’, all areas of industrial agriculture expansion.
  • Using supply chain data, Mighty Earth has found that beef companies JBS and Marfrig are linked to deforestation and land conversion in these areas. JBS and Marfrig account for over half of Brazilian beef exports. Their products are sold worldwide – even by retailers who claim to stand against deforestation in beef supply chains.
  • Fires have been directly linked to beef and soy trader company supply chains and are commonly used as a method of land use conversion.
  • The three fire hotspots have seen more than twice the number of COVID-19 cases compared to the national average, linking cattle-driven deforestation to heightened risk of complications from COVID-19 due to the respiratory impact of smoke.

In 2019, the world watched in horror as fires ravaged the Amazon. Around the globe, citizens and politicians spoke out against the fires and the circumstances that allowed for such devastation to happen on social media. They took to the streets and made commitments to live more sustainably as individuals. But there was a blaring hole in much of the world’s response: the lack of a culprit or a cause.  

Mighty Earth’s 2019 report The Companies Behind the Burning of the Amazon used satellite imagery and supply chain data to identify the companies most responsible for driving the fires – fires which were by no means “natural.” The report identified beef and soy producers – and the retailers around the globe who supply their products to the public – as the main drivers of deforestation and fires in the Amazon.   

Bolstering the work of Indigenous and local communities on the ground, Mighty Earth and our community of partners and climate activists called on the top culprits to rapidly implement zero-deforestation policies and eliminate the market incentives that promote reckless environmental destruction. 

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