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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

US Company Pleads Guilty to Importing Illegal Timber from Peru
09/27/2021
A United States timber importer, Global Plywood and Lumber Trading LLC, has pleaded guilty to importing illegal timber from Peru in violation of the US Lacey Act, which prohibits trade of illegal timber products into the country. A six-year investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection, and the Department of Justice, proved that at least 92% of the Global Plywood timber in this shipment had been illegally logged in the Amazon rainforest
Empresa norteamericana se declara culpable de importar madera ilegal del Perú
09/27/2021
Este mes, un importador de madera de los Estados Unidos, Global Plywood and Lumber Trading LLC, se declaró culpable de importar madera ilegal del Perú en violación de la Ley Lacey de los Estados Unidos, que prohíbe el comercio de productos madereros ilegales en dicho país. Una investigación de seis años llevada a cabo por las autoridades del gobierno norteamericano Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection y el Departamento de Justicia, demostró que al menos el 92% de la madera de Global Plywood en este envío había sido talada ilegalmente en la selva amazónica.
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