The UK is the largest importer of beef resulting from illegal deforestation in the EU according to a report published today by environmental NGO Fern.
The study found that imports of beef into the UK caused around 1160km2 of illegal deforestation in 2012, an area more than two-thirds the size of London. Nearly all of this illegal deforestation was linked to beef imported into the UK from Brazil.
In total, imports into the EU of beef, leather, palm oil and soy were estimated to have caused 2.4 million hectares of land to be illegally cleared of forests between 2000-2012 - the equivalent of one football pitch every two minutes.
Commenting on the findings of the report, Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder said:
"This shocking report shows the need for the UK to end its complicity with illegal deforestation.
"Imports of Brazilian beef are driving the illegal destruction of some of the world's last remaining rainforests.
"An EU Action Plan is desperately needed to reduce deforestation and ensure that all imports into Europe are legally and sustainably sourced."