Producers of coffee and chocolate will soon have to prove that their products do not come from deforested areas, the European Union has decided in a historic agreement. Products with a link to deforestation will no longer be allowed to enter (or leave) Europe.
Over the past thirty years, a forest larger than the whole of Europe (4.2 million sqkm) has disappeared worldwide due to deforestation, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation calculated. Forests are cut down in huge quantities, especially for the cultivation of palm oil and soy for animal feed. Over time, however, this is a major threat to biodiversity and the climate.
The new law against deforestation is groundbreaking, because it will demand that commodities often associated with deforestation will prove where they come from, via a certificate based on satellite images and GPS coordinates. Without having that certificate, they will not be allowed to enter the EU.
From minced meat to furniture
This law concerns products like beef, cocoa, coffee, palm oil, rubber and wood – as well as products that are made of these raw materials (such as chocolate, items of furniture, leather and paper) are also covered by the law. Biodiesel and maize are not included (yet), but the European Commission is considering whether they should be added later.
Companies linked to deforestation are banned from importing or exporting into the EU, but the number of checks will depend on the country of production. In countries with the highest risk, 9 % of traders are checked, Euractiv reports. Europe hopes this will also make importing countries change their policies.
The law now has to be approved by the European Parliament and is expected to come into force next year. Large and medium-sized enterprises will then have eighteen months to adapt, while smaller enterprises will have an extra six months.