UK Imports Responsible For Rainforest Destruction

UK - British imports of beef and soy for animal feed from Brazil last year are estimated to have caused the loss of an area of Brazilian rainforest and grassland twice the size of Greater London, according to a new report launched by Friends of the Earth.
calendar icon 12 October 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

The green campaigning charity's report, From Forest to Fork, shows that increasing demand for animal feed produced in Brazil for British factory farms, along with beef imports, are estimated to have caused around 1,200 square miles of deforestation in 2009.

The report - launched in advance of a major UN meeting on wildlife and natural resources next week - is the first time an estimate has been made of the link between the meat we eat in the UK and deforestation in Brazil.

It also shows that combined demand for beef, soy and increasingly sugarcane is placing a huge strain on the environment and people's livelihoods in Brazil that can only be tackled by reducing the demand for these globally traded commodities.

Friends of the Earth is calling on the Government to introduce a Sustainable Livestock Bill to reduce the impact of meat and dairy production and consumption in the UK which is causing wildlife, rainforest and livelihood destruction abroad. Factory farms - dependent on feeding animals soy protein grown in South America - are subsidised by UK taxpayers to the tune of £700 million a year.

If the Bill becomes law, it will see the Government shifting support towards more environmentally friendly systems with animals fed grains grown in the UK, as well as helping consumers choose a planet-friendly diet.

Vicki Hird, Senior Food Campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: "Even as world leaders are meeting to discuss how to stop deforestation, the UK Government is propping up damaging factory farms with millions of pounds of taxpayers' cash - leaving the public unwittingly caught in a food system that's destroying Brazilian wildlife and rainforest.

"The Government must support British farmers to feed their animals homegrown feed - so our Sunday roast doesn't cost the Earth," she concluded.

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