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EU parliament votes to curb deforestation

News Section Icon Published 9/14/2022

Rainforest burning

Yesterday (13 September), the European Parliament voted in favour of strong regulation on deforestation-free products. The initiative comes after over 200,000 citizens sent personalised messages to Members of the European Parliament asking them to protect our forests.

With its proposal, the European Commission intends to ensure that products imported to the EU or exported from it are not linked to deforestation and forest degradation.

Factory farming fuelling the problem

Between 1990 and 2008, EU consumption led to 10% of global deforestation, according to a European Commission estimate.

Deforestation is a major driver of the global climate emergency and the biodiversity crisis. According to a 2020 report, a football pitch-sized area of tropical rainforest is lost every six seconds.

There are a number of products imported into the EU that drive the destruction of precious ecosystems, yet one of the most important drivers of deforestation is soy. Soy is widely produced to serve as animal feed and imported from countries with the highest deforestation rates.

According to a 2013 study for the European Commission, soy expansion was responsible for nearly half of the deforestation that was indirectly caused by products imported into the European Union between 1990 and 2008.

Without proper safeguards, the soybean industry is causing widespread deforestation and displacement of small farmers and indigenous peoples around the globe.

Change is needed

To curb this global destruction of nature, the EU is planning to prohibit the sale of products that are linked to deforestation – including soy, beef, palm oil, cocoa, leather, wood and coffee. The European Parliament wants to expand the scope of this draft law by including pigs, sheep, goats, and poultry.

In addition, the Parliament voted to extend the law to cover European financial institutions. Should the proposal be adopted, financial institutions would need to prove that their investment portfolios do not fund projects that cause deforestation.

Unfortunately, we regret that the draft law does not cover the dairy and fish industries, as well as all other natural ecosystems destroyed by EU-driven deforestation, such as grasslands and wetlands.

Next steps

The three main EU institutions – the EU Commission, the EU Parliament, and the Council of the EU – will now start the final round of the legislative process, where they will negotiate the final law before its adoption.

Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU, said: “There is a real urgency for the EU to adopt strong measures to address the significant contribution that factory farming and the overconsumption of animal products is having on animals, people and the planet.

“We call on these EU institutions to seal an ambitious deal as soon as possible!”

Together, we have the power to fix our broken food system. Sign up to get urgent campaign actions and news from Compassion in World Farming.

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