During the European Cocoa Association Forum, which took place in Rome this week, many participants welcomed the new legislation put forward by the European Commission, requiring more stringent traceability rules. Among them was the global environmental advocacy organisation Mighty Earth. 

The group noted that as a result of the anticipated EU law on traceability, Cocoa producers would have to demonstrate greater due diligence to ensure that their products do not contribute to deforestation or human rights abuses.

The scope of the law is not limited to the Cocoa sector, either, as it was expanded to include a wider range of agricultural commodities, such as rubber, maize and leather.

It is expected that the new legislation, which we wrote about in detail here, will help many sectors, including Cocoa, to operate under a stronger framework for sustainable and ethical production. Senior Director at Mighty Earth, Dr Julian Oram, embraced the new legislation and its recent amendments but did note that there were further adjustments to be made if it was to deliver on its goal.

Major operators would be able to conduct their own due diligence checks without requiring third-party verification. Mighty Earth hopes that future versions of the law will consider this issue, as it could be problematic for obvious reasons.

We particularly welcome the move by MEPs to align the EU’s deforestation regulation with human rights and the rights of Indigenous peoples under international law.

Adding natural rubber to the list of forest-risk commodities is also another significant step, as is putting additional measures on banks, financial institutions, and investors to ensure that their activities do not contribute to deforestation.

However, allowing big supermarkets, such as Carrefour, to do their own due diligence potentially leaves the door open for deforestation to continue to seep into EU supply chains. Europeans need to know that the food they buy is not laying waste to our planet’s precious forests. Progress today sets the timer on supermarkets to clean up their acts or face a ban on their deforestation-tainted products.

Dr Julian Oram, Senior Director, Mighty Earth

It was also noted that the law, in its current draft, did not extend to other vulnerable ecosystems such as wetlands or grasslands, and this should be explored when discussing future amendments. Dr Oram went on to say that he considered the main aspects of the law to be a “massive success” and a big step toward eliminating deforestation from European supply chains.

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