14 September 2023, London – A planned EU corporate sustainability directive is at risk of becoming a major disappointment for indigenous peoples across the world.
The Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) is currently being negotiated and some Member States – including Germany, France, Finland, and Sweden – are actively seeking to weaken protections for indigenous peoples.
Last year, an investigation by Earthsight and De Olho nos Ruralistas exposed the links between pet food sold by some of Europe’s largest retailers and indigenous land theft and murder in Brazil. Analysis of recent shipment records carried out by Earthsight reveals that trade links between the Brazilian exporter and German consumers remain.
The investigation revealed that Brasília do Sul, a 9,700-hectare soy farm in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, sits on Takuara, the ancestral land of the Guarani Kaiowá who had been violently and illegally evicted. The community’s land rights have been brutally suppressed, and a prominent Kaiowá leader was beaten to death by Brasília do Sul employees and hired gunmen during an attack in 2003 shortly after leading his people back to Takuara.
Lynn Pasterny, Policy and Communications Lead at Earthsight said: “European cat and dog owners should be able to care for their pets without having to worry that they are contributing to the oppression of an indigenous community abroad. Germany and other EU Member States must urgently change their stance on the upcoming EU corporate sustainability law and ensure it requires companies to respect the rights of indigenous peoples.”
Last year’s report found that Brasília do Sul's soy is purchased and processed by Lar Cooperativa Agroindustrial (Lar), Brazil's fourth largest chicken slaughtering company. Lar processes soy into animal feed, which is then used by its members for chicken production.
The Germany-based company Paulsen Food GmbH is a major customer of Lar. Earthsight’s investigation found that German pet food manufacturers Saturn Petcare and Animonda Petcare buy chicken products from Paulsen Food.
Saturn Petcare sells pet food to some of the largest retailers in Germany, including Lidl, dm-drogerie markt, Edeka, Netto Marken-Discount, Rewe Markt, and Rossmann. These retailers sold Saturn Petcare products under their own brand names. Animonda, on the other hand, supplies its own pet food brand to several retailers in Europe, including Fressnapf and online retailers Zooplus, Vetsend and Medpets.
European companies continue to import chicken from Lar, despite the revelations made by Earthsight last year. Between July 2022 and June 2023, Lar exported over 28,000 tonnes of chicken products to the EU. More than 5,500 tonnes of these were frozen chicken exported to German and the Netherlands for the manufacture of pet food. Lar's main markets in the EU are Germany, the Netherlands and Spain.
Whether German cat and dog owners purchase their pet food in drug stores, discount chains, other supermarkets, online, or even at specialised shops, they remain exposed to the risk of unwittingly contributing to the brutal and illegal oppression of the Guarani Kaiowá.
The planned CSDDD aims to promote sustainable and responsible corporate behaviour by requiring companies to exercise due diligence and prevent, mitigate, minimise or bring to an end adverse human rights and environmental impacts throughout their supply chains.
As such, it has the potential to have a real positive impact for indigenous peoples, including the Guarani Kaiowá.
The European Commission’s original CSDDD proposal, published in February 2022, contains some crucial protections for indigenous peoples. It requires companies to consider indigenous peoples' rights - for example as specified in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which includes the right of indigenous peoples not to be forcibly removed from their lands or territories - as part of their supply chain due diligence assessments.
In June 2023, the European Parliament voted to strengthen the Commission’s text, for instance by adding to companies’ due diligence assessments the specific rights of indigenous peoples to free, prior and informed consent for projects that affect them, as well as a requirement for companies to carry out meaningful engagement with indigenous communities.
However, the Council has proposed to effectively weaken indigenous rights protections in the planned directive by removing specific references to their rights. It was reported that the German government had been the driving force behind this position.
Final negotiations between the Council and European Parliament are currently underway and are expected to conclude early next year.
The case of the Guarani Kaiowá demonstrates that it is essential Germany, France, Sweden and Finland change course and ensure that crucial indigenous rights protections, such as land rights, and meaningful engagement are included in the final directive.
Notes to editors
- The full analysis is available in English and German.
- Earthsight is a UK-based non-profit organisation that uses in-depth investigations to expose environmental and social crime, injustice and the links to global consumption.
- The investigation published by Earthsight in 2022 is called There Will be Blood: The ugly truth behind cheap chicken and can be read here.
- The European companies named deny any wrongdoing and affirm their commitment to upholding human rights in their supply chains. Paulsen Food did not respond to our request for comment at the time of publication of There Will be Blood.
- The report includes the companies’ full responses to Earthsight’s findings.
- Major retailers in Germany including Lidl, dm-drogerie markt, Edeka, Netto Marken-Discount, Rewe Markt and Rossmann sell Saturn’s pet food under their own brand names. Animonda products can be found at Fressnapf, Europe’s largest pet food seller, and online vendors Zooplus, Medpets and Vetsend.