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H&M to halt buying Brazilian leather tied to Amazon fires

Ranchers blamed for deforestation in Brazil
  • Fashion chain H&M says it won't buy leather from Brazil until it's sure cattle production isn't fueling forest fires in the Amazon.
  • H&M joins VF Corporation, owner of Timberland, Vans, North Face and other brands, in halting leather purchases from Brazil until suppliers show their wares are not connected to widespread deforestation. 
  • More than 77,000 fires have erupted in the Amazon this year. More than 80% of deforestation in Brazil in recent decades has been linked to pasture expansion.

Swedish fashion retailer H&M says it will stop purchasing leather from Brazil to distance itself from the cattle farming and pasture-clearing that is believed to be fueling the fires burning the Amazon rainforest

"Due to the severe fires in the Brazilian part of the Amazon rainforest, and the connections to cattle production, we have decided to place a temporary ban on leather from Brazil," the company said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch. 

The world's second-largest clothing retailer reiterated that the ban is temporary, and will remain in effect until "there are credible assurance systems in place to verify that the leather does not contribute to environmental harm in the Amazon." 

"The vast majority" of the fashion group's leather is sourced from Europe, the company noted. 

H&M joins VF Corp., which owns Timberland, Vans, North Face and other shoe and apparel brands, in halting leather purchases from Brazil until suppliers show it's not connected to widespread deforestation. VF, based in Greensboro, North Carolina, made its announcement last week.

Thousands of new fires burning across the Amazon

Thousands of fires have erupted in Brazil, many of which are believed to have been intentionally set by farmers and ranchers clearing land. More than 77,000 fires have been recorded in the Amazon so far this year. 

A 2016 study on The State of the World's Forests shows that between 1990 and 2005, more than 80% of deforestation in Brazil was attributed to pasture expansion. 

Stockholm-based H&M and other so-called "fast fashion" companies have come under fire for taking an outsized toll on the environment by selling cheap garments with short life spans.

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