Brazil: 20% of exports to the EU from land deforested illegally

Brésil: 20% des exportations vers l'UE issues de terres déboisées illégalement

One-fifth of brazilian exports of soy and beef to the european Union (EU) comes from land deforested illegally, reveals a study published Thursday by the american journal Science.

Entitled ” The bad apples of the agro-business brazilian “, this study is made public in a context of strong resistance in Europe on the ratification of the free trade agreement signed between the EU and the four Mercosur countries (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay), because of the advance of the deforestation of the amazon since the arrival of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil.

The study was carried out by twelve researchers in Brazil, Germany and the United States, with the help of a powerful software which allowed them to analyze 815 000 rural properties and identify areas of illegal deforestation, especially in Amazonia and in the Cerrado, the vast savannah in the centre of the country.

“Between 18 and 22% -possibly more – of the annual exports from Brazil to the EU are the result of illegal deforestation,” says Raoni Rajão, project leader and professor of the federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG).

Nearly two million tons of soybeans from properties where there has been illegal deforestation would arrive in Europe each year, the study said.

For beef, the authors found that of 4.1 million head of cattle slaughtered per year at least 500 000 would come from cleared lands outside the legal framework.

The authors, however, are that “nearly 80% of the farmers in the brazilian comply with the forest code,” and that the new software could help to ” take swift and decisive action against offenders “.

Brazil has the capacity to become a power in global environmental that protects its ecosystems, at the same time that it feeds the world, ” underline the authors.

The country has already the means, it is just a lack of political will, ” they add.

“The jungles of Brazil are at a breaking point,” warns the professor Britaldo Soares-Filho, co-author and also researcher of the UFMG.

Mr. Soares attributes the threat to ” the impact of policy signals encouraging the deforestation and land-grabbing “, in reference to the support of the president of the far-right for projects that aim to open up indigenous territories and protected nature reserves with mining activities or agricultural — those that encourage deforestation.

According to the official figures, the deforestation of the brazilian Amazon hit a record high with an acceleration of 25% in the first half compared to the same period of 2019.

The study ” points the finger at the responsibility of all the foreign markets in this process “.

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