The UK government has passed new laws that should help prevent consumers from buying food grown on rainforest land that has been illegally logged.
Under the new law, UK firms will be banned from selling commodities if their production breaches local laws protecting forests and other natural areas. The commodities that are most often grown on land that has been illegally cleared includes cocoa, soya, palm oil, beef, leather, rubber, timber, pulp, and paper.
International Environment Minister, Lord Goldsmith said, “In every conceivable way we depend on the natural world around us, protecting rainforests must be a core priority.”
The proposals were first made earlier this year by a panel of business leaders led by Sir Ian Cheshire that was commissioned by Defra to examine how the U.K. can improve its land-use strategy.
These rules will only apply to “a relatively small number of larger businesses” who are most likely to impact on producers, a spokeswoman for the department said. Deforestation accounts for 11% of greenhouse gases, and the vast majority of it is caused by the production of agricultural commodities, Defra said. In some countries, as much of 90% of forests are cut down illegally.