EU imports almost a quarter of illegal agricultural goods

A NEW STUDY suggests that almost a quarter of agricultural goods, produced on illegally deforested land, are imported by the EU.

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The report was commissioned by Fern, a non-governmental organisation which focuses on environmental issues affecting forests. Entitled ‘Stolen Goods: the EU’s complicity in illegal deforestation’, the study estimates how much EU consumption is responsible for illegal deforestation.


It found that between 2000 and 2012, an area of forest – equal to the size of one football pitch – was illegally cleared every two minutes in order to produce beef, leather, palm oil, soy, animal feed, leather shoes and biofuels.


According to the research, the EU are the largest consumers of these illegally sourced commodities, importing 25% of all soy, 18% of palm oil, 15% of beef and 31% of leather. In addition to this, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, France and the UK imported 75% and consumed 63% of illegal products which were imported into the EU.


The majority of illegal agricultural commodities originate from Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia and Paraguay. More than half of these products come from Brazil, where it is estimated that 90% of deforestation is illegal.


Author of the report, Sam Lawson commented: “EU consumption does more than devastate the environment and contribute to climate change. The illegal nature of deforestation means it is also driving corruption, leading to lost revenues, violence and human rights abuse. Those seeking to halt the illegal deforestation have been threatened, attacked or even killed.”


Saskia Ozinga, Campaigns Coordinator at Fern added: “Demand for forest-risk commodities is being driven by a number of different EU policies, such as agriculture, trade and energy policy. We urgently need an action plan to make these different policies coherent, reduce EU consumption and ensure we only import legal and sustainably produced commodities.”