NY AG: Meat Giant's False Environmental Claims Boost Sales
NY AG: Meat Giant's False En...
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NY AG: Meat Giant's False Environmental Claims Boost Sales

29 February 2024
2 min.
NY AG: Meat Giant's False Environmental Claims Boost Sales

The Beef with Greenwashing

On Wednesday, NY Attorney General Letitia James sued meat giant JBS, accusing it of misleading environmental promises, particularly its claim to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040, which the lawsuit deems unrealistic.

A legal case has been initiated in a busy New York City state court against JBS USA Food Company and its parent, JBS USA Food Company Holdings. These companies are key components of the world's leading beef producer, headquartered in Brazil, a country known for its rich biodiversity and environmental debates.

James views JBS's environmental promises, such as ending deforestation and cutting emissions, as tactics to attract eco-aware customers. A lawsuit highlights a 2021 New York Times ad by JBS USA claiming agriculture, including meat production, can achieve net-zero emissions, suggesting these claims may be more about image than action.

James's contention is that such claims not only mislead consumers but also pose a risk to environmental sustainability efforts. “The false narratives spun by JBS USA not only exploit consumers but also jeopardize the ecological balance critical for our future generations,” James articulated, emphasizing the detrimental effect of greenwashing on both consumer trust and environmental preservation.

The legal action seeks not only the cessation of the "Net Zero by 2040" campaign but also demands that JBS USA relinquish profits gained through what the suit labels as fraudulent and deceptive practices. Furthermore, it proposes steep civil penalties, with fines up to $5,000 for each violation, pending a court's decision.

Responding to the allegations, JBS conveyed strong disagreement through a statement from spokesperson Nikki Richardson, who affirmed the company's commitment to sustainable agriculture. “Despite the challenges, JBS remains committed to partnering with the agricultural community to achieve sustainable food production,” Richardson stated, underscoring the company's dedication to environmental stewardship.

This lawsuit against JBS emerges as its environmental practices face increased scrutiny, particularly its role in Amazon deforestation, prompting US and UK lawmakers to urge the SEC to review the company's expansion. The complaint underscores beef production's environmental impact, including deforestation and significant greenhouse gas emissions.

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