Food firms under pressure from campaigners over their environmental impact have reportedly urged the Britain government to strengthen a plan designed to protect rainforests. With the food sector under rising scrutiny for its role in driving deforestation, ministers are planning to implement a new law forbidding big companies to produce from illegally deforested land.

Sources cite that the firms want the new rules to be implemented in all regions and not just in cases where the deforestation is illegal. In an open letter, the companies welcomed the plans as a ‘significant step forward’ however said ‘it is not presently envisioned enough to stop deforestation’, and the companies urged the government to go further to address this issue. They further added that limiting action to illegal deforestation would not halt the loss of natural ecosystems, particularly when government authorities have the discretion to decide what is legal.

The 21 signatories include Tesco, Lidl, Nandos, Nestle, McDonalds, Unilever, Greencore, and Pilgrims Pride. Presently, the government is planning to refer only to big companies like these; however, the signatories said that this would allow other firms to continue importing huge amounts of commodities from earlier forested land.

Speaking on move, Robin Willoughby who is the UK director of green Group Mighty Earth said that the planned legislation still allows widespread deforestation in nations like Brazil, and Indonesia where much of the deforestation is legal. With forests of Amazon in fires and many others being cut down at an increasing rate, nature does not identify the difference between illegal and legal deforestation.

In response, a spokesperson from the government agreed that expansion shouldn’t damage other several ecosystems and assured ministers would explore ways of evading this ‘displacement’ effect.

Although most of the environmentalists have supported the open letter to the government, few say that planned targets are not adequate. For instance, McDonald’s, for instance, has set a target of 2030 for eliminating rainforest products from its entire supply chain - a date critics claim is far too late.

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