SAO PAULO – Greenpeace on Wednesday accused JBS, the world’s largest meatpacker, of not honoring a 2009 agreement in which the Brazilian company pledged to protect the Amazon rainforest by not buying cattle from suppliers who raise beef on illegally deforested land.

JBS denied the claim and said it would take legal action against Greenpeace, saying the environmental group’s report could potentially cause a loss in sales. JBS didn’t indicate what sort of damages it might seek.

Greenpeace said it based its accusations on observations made by its own field investigators and on information obtained in reports from Ibama, Brazil’s environmental protection agency.

“In researching JBS’s business practices, Greenpeace has found, once again, numerous new cases of JBS purchasing cattle directly and indirectly from farms involved in illegal deforestation, invasion of protected areas and indigenous lands, and also of farms using slave labor,” the group said in a statement.

JBS rejected those accusations out of hand.

“The information mentioning JBS in the report are false, misleading, incorrect, and lead society to make wrong judgments,” the company said in an emailed statement. “For this reason the company will take judicial action against Greenpeace and search for all legal means to obtain compensation for material damages.”

After hours calls to Ibama were not returned.

The Greenpeace report comes just two weeks before the United Nations’ Rio+20 sustainable development conference, where preserving the Amazon will be a big topic.

In 2009, JBS SA and three of Brazil’s other major meatpackers and leather exporters signed Greenpeace-brokered agreements with officials in some rural states promising to remove from their supply chain any cattle raised in a manner that led to illegal deforestation or relied upon the work of people in debt-slavery conditions.