From: The Guardian
News Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/jun/30/letters-supermarket-sustainable-food
I was disappointed by the suggestion that supermarkets, and Tesco in particular, were supporting illegal deforestation of the Amazon rainforest (Report, 21 June). The recent Greenpeace report rightly highlights the negative impact of beef production on the Amazon region, where illegal cattle farms are linked to deforestation. We recognise the importance of the Amazon for the crucial role rainforests play in addressing climate change and are full members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, as well as signatories to the moratorium on soy from the Amazon biome.
The Greenpeace report alleges that two Brazilian suppliers, JBS and Bertin, source cattle from illegal farms in the Amazon region and then ship the beef products to southern Brazil for further processing. We have made it clear to our suppliers that the use of beef from illegally deforested regions is unacceptable and we are working with them to ensure that no illegal beef is used in our products. We have also sought and received assurances from both companies that the beef products they supply to Tesco from the Sao Paolo region have not been made using cattle from the Amazon. Leather is sold on the open market and is more of a challenge, but we are working to see what progress can be made.
Executive director, corporate and legal affairs, Tesco
On Saturday night prime time TV, Tesco announced in its advertisement it was proud to offer a £2 chicken, half-price cheddar cheese and free cream with strawberries, it then claimed it offered more and cheaper products than one of its main rivals. I wonder how many British Farmers choked on their Saturday night supper at that claim.
Cheap food offers by Tesco and the like are destroying a sustainable agricultural and food industry. In the long-term these offers won't benefit the consumer. Cheap food is not and never has been sustainable. The world's agriculture is at a point where it soon won't be able to produce enough food to feed the expanding world population. If farmers in the developing nations could profit from their toils, then they would produce most of the food to feed not just themselves, but enough to sell at a profit to feed others. We hear calls for overseas development aid, yet farmers are expected to feed the rest of us at a discount for the benefit of the developed world's consumer.
More and more of our food is being imported. Much of our home-produced food has been produced at an unsustainable price to help this Labour government's aim of controlling inflation. Farmers have had to absorb higher production costs and cope with excessive regulation. They have had to guarantee a supply to the supermarkets, only to see their products undercut by cheaper brands. The demands of the likes Tesco can't for ever be met by its suppliers.