Illegal clearing of rainforest in Brazil in summer 2020
CARL DE SOUZA / AFP
The worst fires in decades raged in the Brazilian Pantanal in 2020.
Nevertheless, the Brazilian government still wants to pass a law that is supposed to legalize land grabbing by farmers retrospectively.
It is not only environmentalists who fear further clearing: dozens of large European retail chains have now joined forces to prevent the plans from being passed.
"In the past year we have noticed several circumstances that have led to an extremely high number of forest fires and deforestation in Brazil," said the open letter to the national congress.
It is signed by a total of 40 companies, including Aldi Süd, Lidl, Metro, Migros, Sainsbury and Tesco.
The Amazon is part of the global ecosystem and must be protected.
That also serves to protect the planet.
Similar action by UK supermarkets 2020
The bill is potentially "an even bigger threat" to the Amazon.
Therefore, the signatories threaten the country: "If this measure is passed, we have no choice but to reconsider our support and use of the Brazilian supply chain." The corporations appealed to the government led by right-wing populist Jair Bolsonaro to abandon the plans.
If the law or a similar regulation is adopted, the companies could list all products from the South American country.
That would have far-reaching consequences: Brazil is a major exporter of beef, soy and coffee to Europe.
A boycott could raise prices.
British supermarkets had already threatened to take similar steps in May 2020, now the legislative plans are up to date again - and more and more companies are participating.
The problem has not gotten any smaller: at the end of 2020, the federal police in the state of Pará had seized a record amount of illegally felled wood - 131,000 cubic meters, corresponding to 6243 truck loads.
On average, more than 4000 rainforest soccer fields were cleared every day last year.
It is still unclear whether and how Head of State Bolsonaro will react to the letter.
In the past he had repeatedly spoken out in favor of expanding agriculture.
He dismissed criticism of his environmental policy as inappropriate interference.
He is considered to be closely allied with the agricultural lobby and had already questioned man's responsibility for climate change.
Despite this messy situation, the companies write that the doors for cooperation are still open.
The vote on the law is expected in the coming days.