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Investigation Reveals Fashion Giants’ Complicity in Environmental Destruction

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A recent investigation conducted by Earthsight has shed light on the concerning practices of some of the world’s largest fashion brands in sourcing cotton from Brazil. While much attention has been focused on the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, the destruction of the Cerrado biome, a vital biodiversity hotspot, has largely gone unnoticed.

The investigation highlights the role of major fashion brands like H&M and Zara in contributing to the degradation of the Cerrado. Suppliers implicated in illegal activities, such as SLC Agrícola and the Horita Group, engage in extensive deforestation and environmental violations to meet the demand for cotton.

Despite claims of sustainability, H&M and Zara’s reliance on a flawed certification system fails to ensure ethical sourcing practices, allowing tainted cotton to enter their supply chains.

The environmental and social impact of cotton production in the Cerrado is severe, with native vegetation loss, habitat destruction, and human rights abuses affecting traditional communities. Efforts to hold agribusiness accountable have been hindered by corruption and weak regulatory oversight.

To address these issues, Earthsight advocates for stronger enforcement of existing laws and expanded legislation to cover cotton and fashion supply chains. They also emphasize the need for greater transparency from suppliers and rigorous ethical sourcing policies from fashion brands.

Ultimately, collective action from governments, businesses, and consumers is crucial to mitigate the devastating impact of industrial agriculture on the Cerrado and its communities.