Commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), new research titled ‘Mapping the European Soy Supply Chain’ shows that 90% of the soy Europeans eat is not listed as an ingredient. Instead, it is consumed indirectly as soy is the main animal feed used to produce meat, eggs, fish and dairy products.

In 2020, the average European consumed 237 eggs, 117kg of various dairy products, 58kg of pork, poultry, beef and other meat, and 2kg of farmed fish. 

In some cases, such as for chicken and salmon, the amount of soy animal feed is almost equal to that of the food produced. About 95g of soy is needed to produce 100g of farmed salmon, and 96g of soy for 100g of chicken breast. 

“We need to open our eyes to the impact that the EU and its consumption have not only on forests but also on grasslands and savannahs – we cannot support the destruction of invaluable nature or people’s livelihoods for our dinner,” said Anke Schulmeister-Oldenhove, senior forest policy officer at the WWF’s European Policy Office, in a press release.

With 68% of wildlife lost in the past 50 years and much of this due to the way food is produced, the WWF is urging decision makers to consider the protection of all ecosystems, and not only forest. 

Presented in November 2021, the European Commission is due to discuss a legislative proposal to curb deforestation. However, it would limit the scope of the new law to forests, postponing a potential inclusion of other ecosystems by at least two years. 

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The WWF highlights that the existing pressure of agricultural production on savannahs and grasslands is ignored and there is a risk that the new expansion of soy production will be shifted from forests to these other ecosystems. 

EU member states are currently discussing their position on the new law, with an orientation debate between environment ministers scheduled to take place on 17 March.

“To ensure that our daily food is nature destruction-free, the law needs to cover, from the start, other natural ecosystems, too,” said Schulmeister-Oldenhove. “It is now crucial that we, as citizens, urge our governments to stand up for nature and support a strong, loophole-free law, one that includes all the important habitats at stake.”