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EU backs deforestation-free commodities law
FoodBev Media

FoodBev Media

21 April 2023

EU backs deforestation-free commodities law

The European Parliament has formally approved a new law that prevents companies from selling products in the EU that have links to deforestation and forest degradation. While no country or commodity will be banned, the law states that companies will only be allowed to sell products in the EU if the supplier can confirm that the items do not come from deforested/degraded land after 31 December 2020. The regulation, first put forward by the EU Commission in November 2021, will affect cattle, cocoa, coffee, palm oil and soya, among other non-food and beverage products such as wood. Additionally, the EU Parliament has requested that companies evidence that these products comply with the relevant legislation of the country of production. This includes human rights and ensuring the rights of indigenous people have been respected. Risk measurements "The Commission will classify countries, or parts thereof, as low-, standard- or high-risk based through an objective and transparent assessment within 18 months of this regulation entering into force," EU Parliament said in a statement. Products from low-risk countries will be subject to a "simplified due diligence procedure". EU authorities will have access to relevant information provided by the companies, such as geolocation coordinates, and will conduct checks with the help of satellite monitoring tools and DNA analysis to verify the origins of a product. Penalties for non-compliance with the law will be "proportionate and dissuasive" and a fine of at least 4% of the total annual turnover in the EU of the non-compliant operator or trader will be implemented. EU rapporteur Christophe Hansen said: “Until today, our supermarket shelves have all too often been filled with products covered in the ashes of burned-down rainforests and irreversibly destroyed ecosystems and which had wiped out the livelihoods of indigenous people. All too often, this happened without consumers knowing about it." He added: “I am relieved that European consumers can now rest assured that they will no longer be unwittingly complicit in deforestation when they eat their bar of chocolate or enjoy a well-deserved coffee. The new law is not only key in our fight against climate change and biodiversity loss but should also break the deadlock preventing us from deepening trade relations with countries that share our environmental values and ambitions.” A wider definition of forest degradation was also established, which now includes “the conversion of primary forests or naturally regenerating forests into plantation forests or into other wooded lands”. The EU Parliament statement concluded: "The text now also has to be formally endorsed by Council. It will then be published in the EU Official Journal and enter into force 20 days later". Comments from Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Plantation and Commodities, Fadillah Yusof, said in a statement that the legislation is a “deliberate effort to increase costs and barriers for Malaysia’s palm oil sector”. Yusof added: “The EUDR is unjust and serves primarily to protect a domestic oilseeds market that is inefficient and cannot compete with Malaysia’s efficient and productive palm oil exports”. Yosof also stated that the enforcement of the new law will impact 450,000 smallholders, which would “increase poverty, reduce household incomes and harm our rural communities,” in Malaysia. You may also like to read:

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