A joint investigation by ITN, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) and The Guardian has linked leading collagen brands with production methods responsible for deforestation in the Amazon and so-called ‘livestock laundering’.
The discovery of collagen production’s contribution to Amazonian deforestation emerged during a long-term TBIJ investigation into cattle industry’s role in tropical deforestation. During its investigations the Bureau encountered “conspicuous mention of collagen”, which is used in health, pharmaceutical and food ingredients products.
Researchers say they “uncovered at least 2,600km of forest loss on farms serving collagen supply chains, and numerous invasions of indigenous lands”. The investigators allege that some of the collagen could be traced all the way to big name collagen supplement brands sold in UK retail chains and health food chains.
While strict regulations on meat products require traceability back to individual farms, collagen – as an animal byproduct (it is produced from the scrapping of cattle hides – is not subject to such strict scrutiny. This, say campaigners, including the MEP Delara Burkhardt, leaves “big loopholes” open for product such as collagen with demonstrable links to deforestation. The investigation revealed how environmentally destructive collagen production is sometimes concealed by livestock laundering, a practice in which cattle raised on deforested land are moved to accredited farms immediately before slaughter.
Collagen is used in an increasingly wide range of supplements (typically for joint and bone health, building muscle mass and heart health) and beauty products.
Chris Grayling MP, co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on global deforestation, told TBIJ: “No company in the cosmetics industry has any excuse for sourcing products from areas of illegal deforestation. I hope the new administration in Brazil will end the scourge of illegal deforestation.” He added that international businesses have a duty to ensure they only buy from legal and sustainable sources.
Image: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism