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How U.S. Imports of Agricultural Commodities Contribute to Deforestation and Why it Matters

The world is losing an area of forest the size of Virginia every year.

Nearly half of this deforestation is due to the illegal conversion of forests to pasture and cropland. And around a third of agricultural products grown or raised on deforested land, such as cattle, palm oil, and soybeans, enter global supply chains. This exposes international markets, including the U.S., to environmental and human rights abuses, corruption, and organized crime through imports of raw materials and related manufactured goods, while undercutting companies trying to source legally and responsibly. To learn more about how U.S. trade drives deforestation, and why it matters, read EIA’s brief.

Voluntary corporate initiatives have failed to reduce, let alone stop global deforestation.

As one of the world’s largest producers and consumers of agricultural commodities, the United States must take leadership by prohibiting agricultural commodities produced on illegally deforested land from entering the U.S. market and requiring companies to carry out and report due diligence on imports of commodities linked to deforestation, including full supply chain traceability.

More than 40 environmental, human rights and faith-based organizations are supporting a bill being led by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) that would represent a huge step forward in preventing the U.S. market from driving deforestation and crime overseas.

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Recent Blog Posts

Perú: Juzgado podría anular resolución que benefició a Tamshi SAC tras deforestar sin autorización
10/13/2021
Un juez está evaluando anular una cuestionada resolución del Ministerio de Desarrollo Agrario y Riego del Perú (MIDAGRI) que intentó regularizar la deforestación no autorizada de 2,196.44 hectáreas de bosque natural Amazónico realizada por la empresa Tamshi SAC entre los años 2013 y 2016.
Mukulagate
09/16/2021
While the coronavirus pandemic rages on, ravaging Zambia’s economy and crippling its citizens' lives, new findings by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) show that illegal exploitation and trade in mukula (Pterocarpus tinctorius) persists unabated, benefitting a small number of well-connected and wealthy individuals. A probing undercover investigation into illegal mukula logging and trade sheds light on the apparent theft of more than 10,000 trees and unveils information connecting the Zambia Agency For Persons With Disabilities (ZAPD), the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Ministry of Tourism and Arts, and the office of the vice president. Nearly two years after EIA’s exposé on the institutional looting of Zambian forests, it appears that the more things have changed with the pandemic, when it comes to mukula, the more they’ve stayed the same.

Recent Reports

The Lie Behind the Ply
06/30/2021
In an unprecedented investigation that connects threatened forests of Solomon Islands, China’s timber manufacturing hubs, and European importers, our new report The Lie Behind the Ply reveals how European consumers of tropical plywood have been the unwitting drivers of forest degradation. Our findings show that European companies appear to have imported thousands of tons of tropical-faced plywood, at high risk of containing illegal wood and in apparent violation of European law.
Tainted Beef
05/27/2021
A new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) reveals how beef sold in Colombian supermarkets is fueling illegal deforestation in protected Amazon forests and contributing to financing armed groups.

Recent Press Releases

Proveedores indirectos: la falta de trazabilidad completa en las cadenas de suministro expone a los supermercados colombianos a la deforestación ilegal
12/09/2021
La ganadería, la cual se lleva a cabo en gran parte de manera ilegal, se ha convertido en uno de los principales motores de deforestación en la Amazonía, desde Brasil hasta Paraguay y Colombia. Como lo documentó EIA en su investigación, titulada Carne contaminada, los principales supermercados en Colombia corren un alto riesgo de vender productos vinculados a ciertas actividades ilícitas en las áreas protegidas, incluyendo pagos a grupos armados.
US-China Pledge to Ban Imports Emanating from Illegal Deforestation: No Time for A Mirage
11/22/2021
London/Washington, D.C. - The 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Glasgow brought renewed attention to fighting deforestation and forest degradation.
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