Letitia James sues beef producer for 'misleading' public about environmental impact of agriculture

"When companies falsely advertise their commitment to sustainability, they are misleading consumers and endangering our planet."

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
On Wednesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that she had filed a lawsuit against meat producer JBS Foods' American division, JBS USA Food Company.

James alleged that officials were "misleading the public" about the JBS USA's environmental impact, namely via their claim that the company would "achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040" while still planning to "increase production, and therefore increase its carbon footprint."

"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," James said in a statement. "When companies falsely advertise their commitment to sustainability, they are misleading consumers and endangering our planet."

James accused JBS USA of "greenwashing," a tactic which, she argued, "exploits the pocketbooks of everyday Americans and the promise of a healthy planet for future generations," adding that her office "will always ensure that companies do not abuse the environment and the trust of hardworking consumers for profit."

She cited numerous statements made by the meat producer which she deemed to be "misleading." These included their claims that, "agriculture can be part of the climate solution," and that it's "possible" to have "bacon, chicken wings, and steak with net zero emissions."

According to the complaint, James has asked the court to force 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 number of potential violations is not listed, and would be determined during a trial.

As Reuters reports, JBS, which is one of the largest meat producers in the world, said it disagreed with the lawsuit, and vowed to continue working with its partners to create a "more sustainable future for agriculture."

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