‘It takes more than a European commitment to stop global deforestation’

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/SPmemory
© GettyImages/SPmemory

Related tags Soy Amazon Biome fires deforestation

EU legislation halting the import of forest-risk commodities would not be an effective response to stop deforestation in the Amazon, said feed, grain and oilseeds, and crushing trade groups, FEFAC, COCERAL and FEDIOL.

The industry representatives said they share public concern over fires in the Amazon, adding that they back EU action to fight deforestation.

“Our sectors have a responsibility in acting against deforestation in our supply chains. We support the EU Commission’s ambition in the fight against deforestation. This will require adjusting EU policies and setting up a regulatory framework conducive to a change in practices on the ground,”​ they said, in a joint statement released this week.

Fires in the Amazon region are raising particular attention because of their alleged link with land grabbing practices and with deforestation, said the trade groups. 

“The fires in the Amazon during the dry season arise through different factors, but there is converging evidence that a relevant share is part of the deforestation process, given that they coincide with recently deforested areas. Therefore, fighting deforestation, in particular illegal deforestation, should promote strong reduction of fire hotspots in the Amazon region.”

Brazil has proven that it is possible to control deforestation in the past through concerted actions of public authorities, business and civil society, backed by a very effective satellite monitoring system, they noted.

The Amazon Soy Moratorium (ASM), they continued, is an example of collaboration between civil society and industry that has shown to be effective; the ASM prevents any soy produced on areas cleared after 2008 from entering the supply chain and reaching Europe, they stressed.

Europe represents 15% of global trade in soybeans and meals compared to China which is responsible for 58% of global trade, they said. The EU sourced about 5m tons of soybeans and 8m tons of soybean meal from Brazil in 2019, corresponding to 35% and 44% respectively of its import needs. Brazil’s soy production in 2019 amounted to 121 million tons, reported the industry representatives.

'Soy is not a driver of deforestation in the Amazon'

The ASM has produced “a spectacular drop in Amazon deforestation”​ from the moment it was implemented, and it continues to ensure that soy is not a driver of deforestation in the Amazon, stressed FEFAC, COCERAL and FEDIOL, with the groups citing data to back up that claim.

“According to the latest ASM report, the non-compliant soy crop area represents only 1.8% of total soy area of the Amazon Biome (88.2K hectares out of 5 million hectares).

“Soy traders and processors are not buying soy from farmers who clear the rainforest, use slave labor or threaten indigenous lands. There is verified monitoring through satellite imagery of land to ensure compliance.” 

The soy moratorium does not extend to Brazil's Cerrado savanna, however, where millions of acres of natural vegetation have been cleared for soy production​.

EU action on deforestation

For EU action on deforestation to be effective, the trade groups said EU policies will need to be aligned, including policies on trade and development cooperation. There also needs to be further engagement with producer countries to discuss how to strengthen enforcement for the protection of native vegetation or on redesigning legal measures where required, they added.

“EU action should include regulatory provisions requiring market players to use tools that will support and accelerate change in supply chains of forest-risk commodities. Deforestation has to be stopped at origin in partnership with governments and public authorities and in cooperation with farmers and local players on the ground to design a win-win situation.

“EU legislation halting the import of forest-risk commodities would not be an effective response to stop deforestation in the Amazon.

“Improving practices on the ground has guided our action for over a decade.

“Our experience with voluntary initiatives and engagement in different supply chains has taught us that such action achieved to slow down conversion of natural habitat and pushed governments and private players to adopt better, more sustainable practices. But it takes more than a European commitment to stop global deforestation and other key global players have to be involved in this process.”

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