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10 July 2020

Press Release


For immediate release

Office: 01483 412383

Out of hours: 07500 577620

Email: press@wwf.org.uk

Giant shipment of soy docks in Europe as deforestation in Brazil skyrockets

WWF-UK calls for new requirements on businesses in the Environment Bill so they don’t contribute to further deforestation caused by imports [1]

A ship containing over 100,000 tons of soy - the largest shipment of soy ever to arrive in the EU - has just docked in Amsterdam. Some of this could ultimately end up in the UK – and we will have no way of knowing. The ‘Pacific South’, which set sail from Paraná[1] - equivalent to more than 80,000 football fields - of land that was once forest or natural grassland. This land has since been cleared for crops producing commodities often destined for the EU market where a lot is used as animal feed.

While it is possible that a lot of the soy comes from land that was cleared a long time ago, we cannot be confident that soy shipments to Europe and the UK are not linked to recent deforestation or habitat destruction. There is currently no UK law guaranteeing that soy and other commodity imports are deforestation-free meaning that consumers unwittingly risk consuming products that contribute to rainforest, savannah and grassland destruction.

Mike Barrett, Executive Director of Science and Conservation at WWF-UK, said: “Without knowing it, we’re eating meat and dairy products from animals fed on soy grown on deforested land in Brazil. We need to stop importing habitat destruction.

“The UK government has a chance to put a stop to this and show global leadership.  The Environment Bill now going through parliament must require companies and financial institutions to guarantee their supply chains and investments are deforestation-free.”

Research conducted by WWF and RSPB released today (10th July) reveals the majority of all soy (65%) comes from countries with high deforestation rates. Riskier Business: The UK’s Overseas Land Footprint also shows that the land required overseas to meet the UK’s annual demand for soy between 2016 and 2018 was on average 1.7 Mha, or an area approaching the size of Wales. In the UK, only around 27% of soy was officially certified as not being associated with deforestation or destruction of other natural habitats. This means almost 75% could be a deforestation threat to landscapes globally. In Brazil, just 2.8% (or 3.2m tonnes) of all soy produced was certified sustainable in 2017. [2]

ENDS

For further information please contact:

Sarah Brown | Senior Media Manager at WWF

E: sjbrown@wwf.org.uk 

Notes to Editors

[1] WWF is calling for the following to be included within the UK Environment Bill: a legally binding global footprint target, a target to ensure UK supply chains are not causing deforestation and a mandatory due diligence obligation. The due diligence obligation would involve establishing a robust legislative framework requiring businesses and financial institutions to prove their supply chains are not damaging the environment. This would help level the playing field for companies and enable action from entire sectors towards achieving deforestation-free supply chains.

[2] This percentage was calculated using volumes of RTRS certified soy from the European Soy Monitor Report www.idhsustainabletrade.com/uploaded/2019/04/European-Soy-Monitor.pdf (commissioned by IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative and IUCN NL) and trade data collected by Trase (https://trase.earth/explore).

[1] This calculation is based on a production of about 2,500 kg soy per ha. The real figure could be higher or lower, depending on the specific circumstances the soy was grown in (soil, weather conditions etc.).

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