On March 2, 2021, an international coalition of eleven NGOs sued the French supermarket chain Casino for its involvement in the cattle industry in Brazil and Colombia, which plaintiffs allege cause environmental and human rights harms. The alleged environmental harms include destruction of carbon sinks essential for the regulation of climate change resulting from cattle industry-caused deforestation. The plaintiffs seek to compel the Casino group to comply with its obligations under the French duty of vigilance law of March 27, 2017.
The plaintiffs argue that in spite of Conduct Adjustment Terms signed with Brazilian slaughterhouses to comply with the Brazilian law according to which "all agents in the production chain are responsible for environmental damage caused with their consent", Grupo Pão de Açúcar, Casino's Brazilian subsidiary, is still being supplied by cattle from deforested areas or from farms established on indigenous territories. Grupo Exito, Casino's Colombian subsidiary, also made commitments to eliminate practices inducing deforestation. The plaintiffs allege that the yearly vigilance plans released by Casino since 2018 lack substance and/or applicability.
On September 21, 2020, the eleven claimants put Casino on formal notice to respect its obligations by adopting appropriate measures to prevent the risks of serious attacks on human rights, fundamental freedoms, human health and safety, and the environment. On December 17, 2020, the Casino Group responded claiming that 1) the group's vigilance plan would include an updated risk map, an assessment of suppliers, and actions to prevent and mitigate risks, and a system for monitoring measures and evaluating their effectiveness, 2) the law on the duty of vigilance only establishes an obligation on companies to take reasonable actions to comply, and 3) the measures requested would be unreasonable.
The plaintiffs demand that the Saint-Étienne Judicial Court order Casino to 1) establish, implement and publish a detailed compliant vigilance plan identifying risks caused by the activities of the group, and 2) on the basis of a lack of vigilance, under Article L. 225-102-5 of the French Commercial Code, to compensate Brazilian Indigenous groups for the loss of opportunity and moral damage stemming from Casino's failure to adhere to its duty of vigilance.