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Food companies urge Britain to adopt tougher rules to protect tropical forests

With the food industry under growing scrutiny for its role in driving deforestation in countries such as Brazil and Indonesia, Britain is drawing up legislation to force the sector to tighten oversight of its supply chains.

In an open letter, some 20 large companies welcomed the plans as a “step forward” but said “it’s not currently envisioned to be enough to halt deforestation and we encourage the government to go further to ... address this issue.”

Signatories included supermarkets Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Morrison's and Sainsbury's, food manufacturers Unilever, Nestle and Greencore Group, McDonald's Corp and various livestock producers.

Britain’s move to introduce legal penalties for companies found to be complicit in deforestation aims to improve upon a range of voluntary, industry-led initiatives that have faced widespread criticism from environmental groups...

[T]he supermarkets and food companies who signed the letter say the proposed new law has a major loophole: farmers in developing countries can often clear forests to grow cash crops for export without breaking any laws.

The companies want the new British rules to apply to all deforestation - not just in cases where the destruction is illegal...

Companies are also concerned that the legislation would not apply to smaller firms who may import considerable amounts of products, such as rubber, from sensitive forest regions...

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