Brussels, January 25,
2011 – Growing demand for meat, animal feeds and agrofuels in Europe is
contributing to the continued destruction of the Amazon and Cerrado habitats in
Brazil, reveals a new report launched today by Friends of the Earth Europe.
The research comes at a time when Europe is debating the future of
farming.  Friends of the Earth Europe is calling for the reform of the
Common Agricultural Policy to reduce the EU’s dependence on imported soy animal
feeds and meat.
'From Forest to Fork'  takes the most
recent data available and finds that the European Union:
- is the fourth biggest global importer of Brazilian meat with more than
250,000 tonnes of beef imported in 2009.
- is one of the main markets for Brazilian soybeans and soymeal buying up about
a third of Brazil’s harvest.
- was the world’s largest importer of Brazilian ethanol produced from sugarcane
in 2009, importing 26.5% of the country’s exports.
Adrian Bebb, food and agriculture
campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe
said: "Europe’s overconsumption of meat, feeds and agrofuels is
leading to the continued destruction of the Amazon rainforest and Cerrado in Brazil with serious consequences for the climate, biodiversity and the lives of thousands
of people. Consumers can play a role by reducing how much meat they eat, but we
need governments to urgently reform European farming policy to help farmers
reduce their use of imported soy animal feeds, and to cut plans to expand the
use of biofuels."
Soy production for animal feed and biodiesel,
and cattle ranching for beef, have historically alternated as the main drivers
of deforestation in Brazil. The report reveals that these have now been
displaced by the expansion of sugarcane. Increased sugarcane production, mainly
for ethanol for agrofuels, is now pushing soy and cattle into the forest
The research highlights that production of
these three commodities is expected to grow – soy production by 5 million
hectares by 2020, and cattle ranching and sugar cane production by 25% over the
same period. This will place additional pressure on forests, ecosystems and
livelihoods in Brazil.
Despite recent drops in Amazon deforestation
rates, 6450 square kilometres are still axed every year – the equivalent of
2475 football pitches per day.  The Cerrado fares even worse with 20,000
square kilometres – equivalent to the size of Slovenia – destroyed annually.
Brazil’s current forest laws are under threat from businesses seeking to
expand agricultural frontiers to be able to meet the predicted growth in
demands. Proposed changes to the laws are due to be voted in the national
congress and could lead to 70 million hectares of protected native forest losing
its legal protection.
Studies have shown this could potentially
release an equivalent of 25 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Clarissa Trois Abreu from Friends of
the Earth Brazil said: "Supported by
high overseas demand, agribusiness is aggressively lobbying to turn our forests
into plantations and ranches which provide none of the benefits of forests for
the climate and wildlife and also pose an enormous threat to peoples’ livelihoods.
There must be no weakening of Brazil’s forest protection laws and international
support for better implementation of existing forest laws."
For more information, please contact:
Adrian Bebb, European agrofuels campaign
coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe,
Tel: +49 1609 490 1163, adrian.bebb[at]foeeurope.org
Francesca Gater, communications officer for
Friends of the Earth Europe, Tel: +32 28 93 10 10 or + 32 4 85 93 05 15,
1. European Commission Communication on the future of the Common
Agricultural Policy: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/cap-post-2013/communication/index_en.htm
European Parliament draft report 'The EU protein deficit: What solution
for a longstanding problem?': http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+COMPARL+PE-450.760+01+DOC+PDF+V0//EN&language=EN
2. 'From Forest to Fork – How cattle, soy and sugar are destroying Brazil’s forests and damaging the climate' is available here.
The report in Spanish can be found here.
5. Technical Report – Potential impact of Brazilian Forest Code changes
to the national goal of GHG reduction emissions (in Portuguese): http://www.oc.org.br/cms/arquivos/relatorio_cfb_final.pdf