Environmental News from the US:
- Major global consumers like the U.K., the U.S., and the EU are debating how best to reduce the amount of tropical deforestation resulting from the production of the commodities they import.
- Some experts argue that laws should restrict any products tinged with deforestation, while others say regulations should allow imports that come from areas that were deforested legally in the countries in which they were produced.
- The debate involves questions around sovereignty, equality, and, ultimately, what strategy will best address the urgent need to stem the loss of some of the world’s most important repositories of carbon and biodiversity.
Tropical deforestation is a cost our planet pays every day for the food we eat. The palm oil in our ice cream, the steak on our tables, and the soy that feeds the chickens whose eggs we fry and scramble — so much of what we depend on comes at the expense of forests, including those irreplaceable, old-growth bastions of biodiversity, stored carbon and much more.
In 2018 alone, 614 square kilometers (237 square miles) of forest vanished in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest and Cerrado savanna to make way for soybean plants, according to a November 2021 study in the journal Environmental Research Letters. But Brazil exports most of its soy, meaning that the United States and other importers of Brazilian soy share responsibility for that tree loss.
Like many tropical countries that export goods from the land where forests once stood, Brazil’s laws differentiate between legal and illegal deforestation. The role those laws play in the importing countries’ own efforts to stamp out deforestation is less clear, however.
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