Defra’s proposed new law to curb deforestation 'seriously flawed'

By Agencies
August 29, 2020

The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) has launched a consultation on proposed new legislation to curb deforestation linked to the UK’s food supply chains. Launching the consultation 'Due diligence on forest risk commodities' Defra announced: "The law we are proposing would require a relatively small number of larger businesses to ensure that the ‘forest risk’ commodities they use – commodities that can cause wide-scale deforestation – have been produced legally. This is because globally a large proportion of forest clearance to produce these commodities is not considered legal.  

"Our proposal would make it illegal for larger businesses to use forest risk commodities that have not been produced in accordance with relevant local laws, and they would need to take steps (undertake due diligence) to show that they have taken proportionate action to ensure this is the case."

Commenting on Defra’s proposals Elena Polisano, forests campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “Defra’s proposals to make it ‘illegal for larger businesses to use products unless they comply with local laws to protect natural areas’ is seriously flawed. We’ve all seen the way President Bolsonaro has championed the expansion of agriculture in Brazil at the expense of the Amazon rainforest.

“There is also nothing in the proposals to address the fact that some commodity producers may have one ‘sustainable’ line but continue to destroy forests elsewhere. This just shifts the problem into someone else’s backyard.

“We will never solve deforestation for commodities like animal feed soya and palm oil without tackling demand. Companies like Tesco, who sell more meat and dairy and use more soya for animal feed than any other UK retailer, know what they need to do to reduce their deforestation footprint. They must reduce the amount of meat and dairy they sell and drop forest destroyers from their supply chain immediately.”

“Proactively, the UK government and industry needs to support a just transition at home and in forest regions to food systems that work with nature, including the restoration of natural ecosystems.”

* Respond to the consultation  (which runs until 5 October) by completing an online survey here or by emailing 

* Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-environment-food-rural-affairs

* Greenpeace UK https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/


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