NY Sues Beef Giant Over 'Greenwashing'

Lawsuit seeks court order for JBS to end 'Net Zero by 2040' campaign
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2024 10:23 AM CST
NY Sues Beef Giant Over 'Greenwashing'
"As the global leader in beef production, the JBS Group knows that if consumers perceive its products as unsustainable, it could reduce consumer demand," the lawsuit states.   (Getty Images/Kryssia Campos)

Brazilian beef giant JBS made "sweeping representations to consumers" about plans to become more environmentally friendly when no such plans existed, New York Attorney General Letitia James says in a lawsuit over alleged "greenwashing." The lawsuit against the American arm of the world's largest meat producer accuses it of misleading the public with a claim that it will be "net zero by 2040," NPR reports. It cites ads, including a full-page New York Times ad from 2021 that stated, "Agriculture can be part of the climate solution. Bacon, chicken wings, and steak with net-zero emissions. It's possible," reports the AP.

JBS hasn't developed a plan to get to net zero by 2040—or calculated its greenhouse gas emissions—and with the current state of technology and the scale of its operations, there would be no chance of it creating a "feasible" strategy to meet that goal, the lawsuit states. The company has "used greenwashing and misleading statements to capitalize on consumers' increasing desire to make environmentally friendly choices," says James. The lawsuit notes that beef "has the highest total greenhouse gas emissions of any major food commodity," and the company has "recognized that sustainability claims can, in effect, provide environmentally conscious consumers with a 'license' to eat beef."

The lawsuit is seeking a court order for JBS to end its "Net Zero by 2040" campaign, the AP reports. It also wants the company to return profits "traceable to its fraudulent, deceptive, or illegal acts or practices." The company's supply chain includes tens of thousands of farms in the Amazon, the New York Times reports. The lawsuit is another setback to its pursuit of New York Stock Exchange listing, which is being opposed by what the Times calls an "unusual alliance of environmentalists, other meatpackers," and lawmakers from both parties. (More meat stories.)

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