Paris (AFP)

A coalition of associations on Monday pinned the Casino group to the beef supply chains of some of its subsidiaries in South America, warning it to respect the legislation on the duty of vigilance.

"These French, American and Colombian associations have mandated us to put you on notice to comply with the legal obligations imposed on Casino Guichard-Perrachon in terms of duty of vigilance and the risks associated with deforestation in South America ", announced their lawyers in a letter sent Monday to the CEO of the group, Jean-Charles Naouri.

The procedure of these NGOs, including Notre Affaire à tous, Sherpa, Mighty Earth and Envol Vert, is based on a report by the latter published in June.

It linked four farms linked to illegal deforestation in Brazil, the Amazon and the Cerrado and 52 products "sold on the shelves and also in the butcher's stalls of two stores of the group".

"These farms alone represent 4,500 hectares of forests illegally cut to make room for cattle grazing. Protected indigenous lands are also being converted," denounced the Colombian NGO's report.

In the letter of formal notice, the lawyers point out that "the field investigation carried out by Envol Vert made it possible to demonstrate that these suppliers of the Casino group [...] have regularly supplied themselves to farms implicated in deforestation and land grabbing activities ”.

The NGOs demand that the group establish a risk mapping, traceability throughout the supply chain as well as the establishment of an alert system, in particular in the event of violation of the rights of the Amazonian peoples.

"When Casino says that they have verified that their three main suppliers are sourcing directly from farms that are not deforested, it is the subject of this file to tell them that it is not enough," a argues Me François de Cambiaire.

If the company "does not come into compliance within three months", the associations said they were ready to take the case to court and "seek compensation for the resulting damage", the NGOs said in a joint press release.

The law on the duty of vigilance invoked obliges companies with more than 5,000 employees in France, or more than 10,000 worldwide to publish a vigilance plan intended to prevent risks in terms of the environment, human rights and corruption which could result from their activities and those of their subsidiaries, suppliers and subcontractors.

"The links between the meat sold by Casino and deforestation show how much this law is necessary today," said Sandra Cossart, director of the NGO Sherpa, during a meeting with the press.

During the first eight months of the year, the satellites of the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) identified 6,086 km2 deforested in the largest tropical forest on the planet.

Deforestation had reached an exceptional level in 2019 (9,178 km2), the first year of the term of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, much criticized for his environmental policy.

© 2020 AFP