Collagen craze drives deforestation and rights abuses

Collagen craze drives deforestation and rights abuses

A package of content to highlight our team’s investigation into how the global demand for collagen is driving deforestation and rights abuses in Brazil

London | Started on 06/03/2023 – Concluded on 10/03/2023

The collagen industry is booming, but while users extol the health benefits of the supplement, little is known about its origin or devastating effects on the health of the planet.

For the first time our investigation connected bovine collagen with tropical forest loss and violence against Indigenous people in Brazil. We employed a range of investigative techniques: analysing satellite data; visiting Indigenous communities under threat; mapping networks of direct and indirect suppliers, and talking to truck drivers in Brazil who transport vast quantities of fly-ridden carcasses and skins from slaughterhouses to collagen factories. This enabled us to piece together the deforestation and threat to Indigenous people at the heart of this flourishing industry. By following the collagen lead we were able to highlight a systemic issue with fresh evidence of environmental destruction and reach a new audience by our choice of video storytelling and our co-publication partners.

We partnered with ITV News, The Guardian, the Pulitzer Center’s Rainforest Investigations Network and UOL and O Joio e O Trigo, to reach consumers worldwide. And we directed a fake online influencer video for use on social media to reach a new demographic. This video and our main news article were the lead offerings in a five day package. We also commissioned an animation to show how bovine collagen is made, and gathered reactions from politicians for a separate reactions piece. The field reporting trip to Brazil produced many strong interviews with Indigenous leaders and drone footage of the Amazon rainforest. This was a stand-alone video and written piece highlighting the threats faced by Indigenous people to their land and livelihoods.

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Editor’s Note: All information published as submitted by the author(s). Minor edits may have been made to increase readability and understanding.