Touch the Soil News #722
One of the things we like to refrain from is too much negative news. However, we came across information today that kind of pushed things over the top.
We’ve been covering the scandals surrounding JBS SA – the world’s largest meat company. Headquartered in Brazil, the company and its two top executives Joesley and Wesley Batista have been found guilty of spending $112 million in recent years to bribe 1,900 government and other officials. Meat inspectors were bribed to look the other way as spoiled and tainted meat was pushed into the food chain and exported around the world. For more information see our News piece #717.
The problem was that it was not only JBS SA that was running afoul. More than 30 other Brazilian meat companies have been under investigation and many arrests have been made.
Come to find out, the largest grocer in the UK is a chain called Waitrose. Waitrose has done nothing wrong, and has a royal warrant to supply groceries, wine and spirits to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles. A popular product for Waitrose is corned beef that the grocer has been sourcing from Brazil. Waitrose obtained documents from the Guardian and Reporter Brazil that revealed it was buying corned beef from ranchers engaged in modern-day slavery. Come to find out, there are tens of thousands of people held in debt bondage and slave conditions in Brazil. Estimates are that over 25,000 Brazilians are lured into slavery each year – in a nation where the last three (3) presidents have been paid millions of dollars in bribes.
Many of the ranches on which slave-like working conditions exist are in remote areas of rainforest that have been slashed and burned in recent years.
The only glimmer of hope is that some Brazilian prosecutors have now come into the open to challenge and prosecute corruption and slave holders.