French supermarket chain Casino is being sued by indigenous groups from the Amazon, for allegedly selling beef linked to deforestation.
The 11 indigenous groups, backed by NGOs in the US and France, are seeking €3.1m ($3.7m; £2.7m) in damages.
In a statement, the groups linked Casino meat to an area of deforestation “five times the size of Paris”.
Casino told AFP and Reuters news agencies that it took a “rigorous” approach to its supply chains.
The company is being taken to court under a French law enacted in 2017. Under the law, businesses must avoid human rights and environmental violations in their supply chains.
The indigenous groups from Brazil and Colombia have accused Casino of “damages done to their customary lands and the impact on their livelihoods”.
In the statement they said deforestation in South America, particularly in Brazil, was mainly driven by cattle ranching.
“According to evidence compiled and analysed by the Center for Climate Crime Analysis for this case, Groupe Casino regularly bought beef from three slaughterhouses owned by JBS,” a meatpacking company accused of deforestation, they said in a joint statement.
“The three slaughterhouses sourced cattle from 592 suppliers responsible for at least 50,000 hectares of deforestation between 2008 and 2020… The deforested area is five times the size of Paris.”
Casino also controls Brazil’s largest food retailer, Grupo Pão de Açucar (GPA), and Colombian retailer Almacenes Éxito.
The indigenous groups also accuse Casino of violating indigenous rights, and cite one case in particular in which indigenous lands were invaded and used by cattle farms that supplied beef to GPA.
“The demand for beef by Casino and Pão de Açucar brings deforestation and land-grabbing and violence, and the murder of indigenous leaders when they choose to resist,” Luiz Eloy Terena, a leader of Brazil’s Terena people, said in the statement.
“With this lawsuit, we seek to hold the company accountable for the consequences of these impacts and to bring some relief to the reality confronted by our indigenous peoples on their lands.”
Casino told Reuters news agency that its Brazilian-sourced beef was not sold in its French shops.
GPA also told the agency that in 2016 it set out criteria that its suppliers must comply with – including “zero Amazon deforestation, no slave-like condition, no child labour and no invasions of indigenous land or conservation areas”.