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This article first appeared in AGDAILY and was picked up by MSN.

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit today against the American subsidiary of JBS, the world’s largest producer of beef products, alleging it misled the public about its environmental impact.

James’ suit centers around claims that JBS USA has promised it will achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 despite documented plans to increase production and, therefore, increase its carbon footprint.

In 2021, the JBS Group, JBS USA’s global parent company, reported total global greenhouse gas emissions of over 71 million tons, more than the total emissions of some countries. James says her office seeks to stop JBS USA from continuing what she calls false and misleading marketing practices, pay disgorgement of all ill-gotten profits, and penalties.

“As families continue to face the daily impacts of the climate crisis, they are willing to spend more of their hard-earned money on products from brands that are better for the environment,” said James. “When companies falsely advertise their commitment to sustainability, they are misleading consumers and endangering our planet. JBS USA’s greenwashing exploits the pocketbooks of everyday Americans and the promise of a healthy planet for future generations. My office will always ensure that companies do not abuse the environment and the trust of hardworking consumers for profit.”

James also accuses JBS USA of making several misleading claims about its environmental impact, including pledges to curb deforestation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Consumers worldwide are increasingly concerned about their environmental impact and put greater trust in companies and brands that pledge to be sustainable or climate-conscious. Recent studies have shown that a company’s environmental reputation influences people and are willing to change their habits to switch to more environmentally friendly products: more than two-thirds of American adults are willing to pay more for sustainable products.

James lists how JBS Group and JBS USA have allegedly used greenwashing and misleading statements to capitalize on consumers’ increasing desire to make environmentally friendly choices, claiming:

  • “Agriculture can be part of the climate solution. Bacon, chicken wings, and steak with net zero emissions. It’s possible.”
  • “We will cut our own emissions by 30% in 2030 and eliminate Amazon deforestation from our supply chain within five years.”
  • “JBS will achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions, reducing its direct and indirect emissions and offsetting all residual emissions.”

The attorney general accuses JBS Group and JBS USA of not calculating the company’s total greenhouse gas emissions and, therefore, saying that JBS had no way of knowing whether they could successfully reduce those emissions to net zero by 2040.

With this lawsuit, James is asking the court to require JBS USA to cease its “Net Zero by 2040” advertising campaign, conduct a third-party audit of its compliance with New York’s consumer protection statutes, and pay disgorgement of all ill-gotten gains earned by misleading the public about their business practices as well as penalties of at least $5,000 per violation. The total number of violations will be determined at trial.

Ban the Batistas, a campaign that’s already made some unlikely bedfellows in its fight against JBS, has voiced its support of the lawsuit. The coalition says it includes American farmers, ranchers, consumers, and investors concerned about the risks and “power grab” by JBS’ majority shareholders, brothers Joesley and Wesley Batista from Brazil.

“Ban the Batistas applauds New York Attorney General Letitia James for her bold stance in holding JBS accountable for its misleading environmental claims.,” the group said.

It went on: “However, we must not overlook the broader context surrounding JBS’s operations. The company’s troubling history, including its involvement in a significant corporate corruption scandal, raises serious doubts about its suitability for a U.S. listing and IPO. Ban the Batistas adamantly opposes JBS’s pursuit of such actions, as they could expose investors and stakeholders to substantial risks associated with the company’s questionable practices.

“We urge all stakeholders to reconsider their support for JBS in light of its troubled past and ongoing controversies.

“We stand firm in our resolve to expose and combat their criminal behavior, ensuring justice for our environment and communities.”