LatinNews Daily - 24 November 2021

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BRAZIL: Soya producers slam EU deforestation law

On 23 November, the Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Soja (Aprosoja), an organisation representing soya producers in Brazil, released a statement slamming new legislation proposed by the European Union (EU) which seeks to ban imports linked to deforestation as “trade protectionism dressed up as environmental concern”


The European Commission presented a law on 17 November which would set mandatory due diligence rules for importers of soya, beef, palm oil, wood, cocoa, and coffee (as well as some derived products such as chocolate), in an attempt to stop imports linked to deforestation. The EU framed this as an important step towards meeting the pledge made at the COP26 climate summit to end deforestation by 2030 – a pledge also signed by Brazil, which has even brought forward its own zero deforestation target to 2028. Yet Aprosoja’s strongly worded response to the EU provides further evidence that this pledge is little more than empty words on Brazil’s part. 

  • Aprosoja slammed the EU legislation as “an affront to national sovereignty” and accused Europe of continuing to treat Brazil as its colony. 
  • The soya producers cite Brazil’s forest code – which obliges land owners to preserve between 20% and 80% of the vegetation on their land depending on the biome – and the commitments adopted by the government led by President Jair Bolsonaro at the COP26 as more than sufficient environmental protections. Aprosoja adopts a discourse very similar to Bolsonaro’s in refusing to admit that unfettered deforestation and environmental destruction are a problem in the Amazon, and in other Brazilian biomes such as the Cerrado.
  • While some sectors of Brazilian agribusiness have been pushing for the Bolsonaro government to adopt a more environmentally sustainable stance, this does not appear to be Aprosoja’s case. A BBC Brasil report published earlier this month found that the Mato Grosso chapter of Aprosoja has been funding a series of lectures by climate change deniers. Mato Grosso is the biggest soya-producing state in Brazil.  

Looking Ahead: Both the EU’s proposed legislation (which must be passed by member states) and the reaction to it in Brazil could further impact the stalled trade agreement between the EU and the Southern Common Market (Mercosur); the deal is yet to be ratified amid an ongoing impasse over Mercosur countries’ – and notably Brazil’s – environmental commitments.

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