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Are you destroying the rainforest on your BBQ this weekend?
28 August 2004
Summer barbecues are contributing to the destruction of the Indonesian and Amazonian rainforests, Friends of the Earth said today, in a new briefing highlighting the damage caused by illegal logging and intensive production of soy and palm oil . Chicken, beef burgers, veggie burgers, bread, crisps and prawns are all contributing to rainforest destruction - and yet UK consumers remain oblivious to the trail of destruction these every day goods leave in their wake.
Friends of the Earth is calling on the Government to impose tougher social and environmental regulations on retailers and other companies which would force them to take responsibility for the damage caused by the products they sell.
Previous work by the environmental organisation showed that four out of five retailers of garden furniture in the UK were implicated in the destruction of tropical rainforests. But as the briefing demonstrates, it is not only garden furniture retailers who are implicated in this devastation.
The environmental campaign group argues that consumers cannot be expected to know the origins of every product they buy - and that companies should declare the origins and impacts of their products.
Soy production in South America has expanded rapidly in recent years, with some 90 per cent of exports used for animal feed in Europe. It is estimated that every pig and chicken in the UK will have consumed South American soy at some point. But soy farms are now spreading into Central Brazil and Amazon rainforest, contributing to the accelerating destruction of one of the world's great last wildernesses.
And in South East Asia, the spread of palm oil plantations is threatening the natural habitat of the orang-utan, Sumatran tiger and the Asian elephant as forest is sacrificed to make way for palm oil plantations. With palm oil now found in roughly one in three food products on the supermarket shelves, including bread, crisps, veggie burgers and mayonnaise, it is hard for customers to avoid even where they object to its impacts.
The briefing also highlights the damaging impacts of shrimp production on mangrove - a precious coastal habitat that is home to wildlife and protects vulnerable land areas from erosion by the sea.
Friends of the Earth's Corporates Campaigner Robin Webster said:
"The great British barbecue is sending some of the world's most precious rainforest up in smoke and British companies are profiting from the destruction. Tough regulations are needed to make companies take responsibility for the damaging impacts of products they sell. Then the British public will be able to enjoy barbecues without worrying about the wildlife that is being destroyed."
Friends of the Earth urged the public to follow its top tips for a greener barbecue:
Always use charcoal on your barbecue certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (look for the "tree and tick" FSC label)
Source vegetable and salads from local sources - try local farm shops and farmers' markets for cheap fruit and veg.
Try grilling vegetables (organic or local) - peppers and aubergines work well
Avoid barbecueing fish at risk from overfishing - find out more at www.fishonline.org
Small "coldwater" prawns from temperate sources are generally less damaging than "warmwater" prawns. Look for guarantees that the prawns come from sustainable sources and demand evidence. See www.ejfoundation.org/pdfs/ejf_prawn_consumer_guide.pdf (PDF format) for more information.
Don't use patio heaters to turn up the heat at your barbecue - they waste energy and contribute to climate change. If it's cold, wear a jumper or move inside.
Buy any wooden furniture from reclaimed or recycled sources. Make sure that any newly purchased furniture is from FSC timber. Much tropical hardwood sold in this country is illegally logged.
Look out for meat that comes from organic and free-range sources.
Write to your MP and ask for tougher environmental regulations for companies - and make the Government take responsibility for the impacts of companies overseas.
Friends of the Earth is campaigning for changes to UK company law so that financial obligations are counterbalanced by social and environmental concerns. It wants the Government to introduce mandatory reporting, requiring all UK companies to report annually on the impact of their operations, policies, products and procurement practices on people and the environment both in
the UK and abroad; new legal duties on directors to take reasonable steps to reduce any significant negative social or environmental impacts; and foreign direct liability to enable affected communities abroad to seek redress in the UK. For more information see www.corporate-responsibility.org
 www.foe.co.uk/resource/media_briefing/bbqbriefing.pdf (PDF format)Rainforest on your BBQ (PDF format)
Greasy Palms Palm Oil, The Environment and Big Business (PDF format)
If you're a journalist looking for press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649.
Published by Friends of the Earth Trust
Last modified: Jul 2008