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Britain’s lax commodity regulations driving deforestation

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CAMPAIGNERS have slammed the government’s laissez-faire attitude to regulating products that contribute to global deforestation.

The condemnation came after the environmental audit committee publishes a report today stressing the impact Britain’s consumption of commodities such as soy, cocoa, palm oil, beef and leather have on forests around the world.

The government announced that four commodities — cattle products (excluding dairy), cocoa, palm oil and soy — will eventually have to be certified “sustainable” to be sold in Britain.

But no timeline has been given on when the legislation will be introduced.

The report said: “The failure to include commodities such as maize, rubber and coffee within this scope does not demonstrate the level of urgency required to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.”

The committee also flagged a lack of transparency on how £1.5 billion of funds earmarked for deforestation will be spent and asked for more clarity.

Clare Oxborrow from Friends of the Earth said that the committee was right to highlight the government’s failure to include all high-risk commodities. 

She argued that the costs aren’t solely environmental, saying: “Human rights abuses are a widespread consequence of deforestation, with indigenous communities too often paying the price through illegal land grabbing and violence.” 

Dr Charlie Gardner, a member of Extinction Rebellion and conservation scientist, said it’s “very difficult” for anyone who’s concerned about the impacts of their choices to work out which products are sustainable. 

He said: “It’s wrong for the impetus to be on the consumer.

“It shouldn’t be up to us to have to do lots of research into buying products that don’t drive orangutans towards extinction.

“It should simply be the case that those products are not available on our shelves.”

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