Anti-deforestation push in France a concern for Brazilian companies

. Nov 20, 2020
deforestation france Demonstration against Amazon deforestation in Paris. Photo: Antoine Ramus/Shutterstock

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Today, we cover a move by French food retailers against Amazon deforestation. New evidence on the hack of Brazil’s election systems. And what you need to know about the municipal runoff races.

French pledge against deforestation a threat to Brazil’s agro

The top 8 supermarket chains in France jointly announced measures

to stop using products containing soy grown on deforested land. In celebration of the two-year anniversary of the National Strategy Against Imported Deforestation (SNDI), big retailers committed to including non-deforestation clauses in contracts with suppliers.</p> <ul><li>As pressure from consumers increases, brands start to adopt environmentally responsible procedures in their supply chains. A <a href="">YouGov poll</a> from April 2019 showed that 87 percent of European Union citizens agree governments must enact stricter laws to ensure that products sold in the region do not contribute to global deforestation.</li></ul> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> France imported over 3 million tons of soy in 2017, two-thirds of which came from Brazil. And, according to a July 2020 <a href="">research paper</a> published in Science magazine, roughly 20 percent of soy exports and at least 17 percent of beef exports from the Amazon and Cerrado biomes to the EU may be the products of illegal deforestation.</p> <p><strong>Exposure.</strong> Carrefour and Casino, two of the sector&#8217;s top players, have recently increased their footprints in Brazil. Recent <a href="">reports</a> by Chain Reaction Research, a think tank that conducts research related to deforestation and commodities, has linked both companies to purchasing beef from high-risk slaughterhouses in the Amazon.</p> <ul><li>In June, an <a href="">investigation</a> by French NGO Envol Vert found that Casino &#8220;regularly purchased&#8221; beef from four companies involved in deforestation and land grabbing in the Amazon. In reaction, a coalition of NGOs from France, the U.S., and Colombia gave the retail giant three months to enact changes to its supply chain — or face legal action.</li></ul> <p><strong>Making a bad name for itself.</strong> Under President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil has adopted a denialist approach to deforestation and climate change, attacking any nation that raises concerns about the issue. France, in particular, has become one of the president&#8217;s main targets.</p> <ul><li>Earlier this week, Mr. Bolsonaro <a href="">threatened to &#8220;name names&#8221; of countries importing illegal timber</a> from the Amazon, trying to make a case that the EU&#8217;s &#8220;holier-than-thou&#8221; stance was little more than hypocritical. On Thursday, however, he said he would accuse <em>companies</em> and not <em>countries</em>.</li></ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Hack of electoral courts could be broader than first reported</h2> <p>A Federal Police investigation into the <a href="">hack of the Superior Electoral Court&#8217;s systems</a> on Election Day says hackers were able to access data on public servants and the court&#8217;s members from 2020. Initially, authorities reported that only outdated databases had been leaked.&nbsp;</p> <ul><li>The hack itself likely occurred before September 1, but it was only made public once polls had opened in Sunday&#8217;s municipal election, suggesting the move was aimed at discrediting Brazil&#8217;s electronic voting system.</li></ul> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> Authorities might have jumped the gun on Election Day when dismissing the extent of the attacks. As new evidence suggests the hack was more serious than initially reported, conspiracy theories of voter fraud could gain even more steam.</p> <p><strong>Who is behind it.</strong> The main attack came from Portugal, according to investigators. Today, newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo <a href=",hacker-portugues-e-suspeito-de-atacar-tse,70003521572">reported</a> that it talked to a 19-year-old hacker known as Zambrius, who said he orchestrated the attack alone, using nothing but a smartphone. He was quoted as saying he hacked the electoral system &#8220;for the fun of it.&#8221;&nbsp;</p> <ul><li>The Federal Police is reportedly considering that pro-Bolsonaro online troll armies could also be behind the move. Bashing the electronic voting system and demanding the return of paper ballots are long-held causes of the president&#8217;s.</li></ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Runoff election Roundup</h2> <p>With one week left until runoff election for mayors in major Brazilian cities, here&#8217;s what you need to know:</p> <ul><li><strong>No Covid.</strong> Despite mounting evidence that a second wave of infections is creeping up in Brazil, candidates of the two biggest cities have avoided the topic. Incumbents Bruno Covas (São Paulo) and Marcelo Crivella (Rio de Janeiro) do not want to draw attention to their administration&#8217;s shortcomings during the first wave. Challengers Guilherme Boulos (São Paulo) and Eduardo Paes (Rio) do not want to say whether or not they defend imposing new restrictive measures —&nbsp;which are terribly unpopular with voters.</li><li><strong>Desperation mode.</strong> In Rio de Janeiro, Mr. Crivella is trailing far behind in the polls, at around just 28 percent. In a push to galvanize supporters, he has ramped up his rhetoric beyond acceptable levels, targeting São Paulo Governor João Doria with homophobic slurs and accusing his opponent of wanting to implement pedophilia rings within public schools. Mr. Paes says he will sue the mayor for defamation.</li><li><strong>Family feud.</strong> Few of the runoff races in key constituencies are expected to go down to the wire. Recife, one of the largest cities in the Northeast, appeared to be an exception. However, Workers&#8217; Party candidate Marília Arraes is pulling 10 points ahead of her cousin João Campos. The two are heirs of former state governors of the state, with the Campos branch holding power more recently — which explains a certain fatigue from voters.</li></ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>What else you need to know today</h2> <ul><li><strong>GDP.</strong> According to forecasts made by think tank Fundação Getulio Vargas, economic activity in Brazil grew 7.5 percent in Q3 2020 when compared to the previous quarter. The rally, however, was not enough to recover the 9.7-percent drop registered in Q2, and Brazil&#8217;s economic activity levels remain 5 percent below where they were at the beginning of the year.</li><li><strong>Vaccine 1. </strong>According to Deputy Health Minister Elcio Franco, Brazil has no intention of passing legislation to exempt Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers from liability in the case of severe adverse events when <a href="">immunization is made available</a> to the general public. He added that the government is holding meetings with five vaccine developers and should sign non-binding memoranda of understanding on future purchases.</li><li><strong>Vaccine 2. </strong>The Brazilian government is negotiating with Pfizer to purchase millions of doses of its <a href="">potential coronavirus vaccine</a> — which analysis found to be 95 percent effective against Covid-19 at the 28-day point after the first dose. But even if a price is agreed upon, one major hurdle remains: the country doesn&#8217;t have the ultra-cold vaccine freezers it would need to store Pfizer&#8217;s vaccine at -70<sup>o</sup>C temperatures. Moreover, the existing infrastructure is unequally distributed: some states don&#8217;t have any lab freezers at all.</li><li><strong>Coronavirus. </strong>While the government continues to deny that a second wave is beginning in Brazil, it cannot hide <a href="">explosions of Covid-19 cases</a> in Brazil&#8217;s largest indigenous reserve. Confirmed cases in the Yanomami Indigenous Territory jumped 250 percent between August and October — according to a report produced by researchers and leaders of the Yanomami and Ye’kwana ethnic groups. In relation to the entire local population, this means that one in three members of these groups may have been infected by Covid-19.</li><li><strong>Power outages.</strong> After further power outages in the northern state of Amapá, a federal court ordered that all members of Aneel — Brazil&#8217;s power sector watchdog — be suspended from office. The measure will last for 30 days and aims at preventing them from tampering with investigations over the causes of the multiple power outages which <a href="">plagued the state</a> for the past month.

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