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Fashion giants H&M and Zara linked to massive deforestation and corruption in Brazil: report

Fashion giants H&M and Zara linked to massive deforestation and corruption in Brazil: report


Report links fashion giants H&M and Zara to deforestation and corruption in Brazil

H&M and Zara used cotton from farms linked to massive deforestation, the report said.


Fast fashion giants H&M and Zara used cotton from farms linked to massive deforestation, land grabbing, corruption and violence in Brazil, a report from environmental group Earthsight said Thursday.

Based on satellite images, court rulings, shipping records and an undercover investigation, the report, titled “Fashion Crimes,” found that companies were sourcing “contaminated cotton” grown in the fragile Cerrado savannah. by two of the largest agribusiness companies in Brazil, SLC Agricola and the Horita Group.

Despite abuses linked to its production, the cotton has been labeled ethical by leading certification scheme Better Cotton, revealing “deep flaws” in the monitoring programme, the UK environmental group said.

The Cerrado, the most biodiverse savannah on the planet, is disappearing at an accelerating rate as Brazil's agribusiness industry increasingly turns to the region in recent decades.

Earthsight traced at least 816,000 tonnes of cotton exported from 2014 to 2023 to farms managed by SLC and Horita, which “have a long history of court injunctions, corrupt decisions and millions of dollars in fines related to land clearing of approximately 100,000 hectares of Cerrado wilderness. “It said.

The cotton in question was grown in the northeastern state of Bahia and shipped to eight Asian clothing manufacturers whose customers include Sweden's H&M and Spain's Zara, according to the report.

Brazil, the world's largest exporter of beef and soybeans, has also become a major producer of cotton in recent years, now ranking second behind the United States.

But it has contributed to environmental destruction in the Cerrado, where “a disastrous mix of corruption, greed, violence and impunity has led to the blatant theft of public lands and the dispossession of local communities,” Earthsight said.

Better Cotton said in a statement that it had conducted an independent audit into the “matters of high concern raised” in the report and would provide a summary of the findings.

Zara's parent company Inditex and H&M said they took the allegations seriously and urged Better Cotton to publish the auditors' findings.

The Brazilian Cotton Producers Association (ABRAPA) said it had worked with the producers in question to provide records and evidence contradicting the report's allegations.

“Unfortunately, these measures have been largely ignored,” she said in a statement.

“ABRAPA unequivocally condemns any practice that undermines environmental conservation, violates human rights or harms local communities.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)




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