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Pressure grows on Brazil to scrap deforestation bill

Leading European poultry firms threaten to boycott Brazilian agricultural commodities if Brazil’s Congress passes a bill leading to more deforestation.

Moy Park and Cranswick plc have joined supermarkets such as Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Aldi, and the Co-op, as well as investors such as Norway’s largest pension company KLP, in signing an open letter on the protection of the Amazon rain forest. Similar legislation was withdrawn in May 2020 after a boycott threat from many of the same companies.

Leading European poultry firms threaten to boycott Brazilian agricultural commodities if Brazil’s Congress passes a bill leading to more deforestation. Photo: Henk Riswick
Leading European poultry firms threaten to boycott Brazilian agricultural commodities if Brazil’s Congress passes a bill leading to more deforestation. Photo: Henk Riswick

Moy Park is a signatory to the Cerrado Manifesto – a call to action to halt deforestation and native vegetation loss in Brazil’s Cerrado – and is a member of the UK’s Roundtable for Sustainable Soy, Roundtable for Responsible Soy, and the Soy Transparency Coalition.

They are concerned that a bill expanding property rights for squatters on public land will encourage deforestation by rewarding land grabbers in the Amazon, who occupy properties illegally, often clear-cutting areas for agricultural use in the process.

In an open letter to the Deputies and Senators of the Brazilian Congress, the companies say Brazil’s targets to reduce the high levels of forest fires and deforestation in the Amazon are increasingly inadequate.

If this or other measures that undermine….existing protections become law, we will have no choice but to reconsider our support and use of the Brazilian agricultural commodity supply chain. We urge the Brazilian government to reconsider its proposal.” they said.

Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of soy, used for feed across livestock sectors and for human consumption, and beef.

Conservation charity WWF told the Times newspaper that the bill could “grant amnesty to land grabbers” and cause up to 16m hectares to be deforested by 2027.

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Farmers on the UK’s Farming Forum said the European countries needed to go further. A livestock farmer from South Molton, Devon, wrote: “Instead of writing a strongly worded letter, get some balls and ban the use of it in animal and human food.”

The Sustainable Food Trust has been urging UK livestock farmers to use more local alternatives to soy meal and palm kernel meal, such as rapeseed meal, distillers’ grains, and pulse grains, including peas and beans and lupins.