The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is demanding that the government makes changes to the Environment Bill in order to end imports on food products that negatively contribute to deforestation.
The Environment Bill returned to Parliament last month (January 30) with two ‘enhanced aspects’ to stop the exports of plastics to developing countries and create environmental legislation, but there was no mention of preventing deforestation in the UK’s supply chain.
The WWF is asking the government to add a‘Due Diligence’ regulation to the bill that would require UK companies to guarantee their activities and supply chains are not contributing to deforestation or pollution.
Agriculture currently accounts for nearly three-quarters of deforestation in tropical and subtropical countries and by 2030, it is estimated that a further 1.7 million km2 of forests could be destroyed if deforestation continues at its current rate.
Unsustainable soy production is a huge contributor to this deforestation because it is currently more profitable to clear land for food production than it is to use degraded or abandoned land that already exists.
The soy that feeds animals mostly comes from South America, where soy production has nearly tripled in the last 20 years.
In Brazils Cerrado alone, there are 40 million hectares of cleared land that would be ideal for soy production, but instead, new land is cleared every day.
According to WWF, the UK annually imports soy that is grown on more than 1.5 million hectares of deforested land and European consumers consume approximately 61kg of soy per year without realising.
For example, even if people are consuming meat that is born and reared in the UK, the majority of pigs and chickens are fed on soy which is grown abroad.
WWF has stated that although some companies have made commitments to tackle deforestation in their supply chains, voluntary action is not delivering the change needed.
Katie White, WWF Executive Director of Advocacy and campaigns said: ‘People don’t want to eat food that’s destroying forests, but deforestation is hidden even in the food that appears home-grown.
‘Action by individual businesses or consumers isn’t enough.
‘We need the government to show deceive leadership tot ake deforestation off our supply chains and off our plants with legislation that makes it illegal to import products that contribute to the destruction of forests.’
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