Pupils fear school dinners linked to deforestation

time:2023-06-02 16:47:22source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) author:Press center4

School dinners could be linked to deforestation, pupils will tell the Welsh government.

Campaigners want ministers to ban schools and hospitals serving dishes containing products linked to deforestation and exploitation.

A primary school in Monmouth is the first to sign up to a pilot project which aims to combat deforestation.

The Welsh government said it wanted Wales to be a globally responsible nation.

According to the World Economic Forum, half of the world's tropical deforestation is illegal.

Hundreds of thousands of hectares of woodland is felled each year to grow a range of Welsh imports including beef, soy and timber.

Pupils at Monmouth's Osbaston Primary School have been investigating whether their lunches are at fault.

Year Six pupils Isobel, Laurence and Bryn have been working on a presentation for deputy climate change minister Lee Waters.

They want him to ensure fewer products linked to deforestation are imported.

Isobel, 11, said the group had identified problematic ingredients such as "embedded soy and palm oil".

Laurence feared his sausages could be linked to soy production and was worried about his Yorkshire pudding.

"The Yorkshire puddings are made with eggs and milk which could also have embedded soy in it," the 11-year-old said.

Bryn, 10, said: "The ice cream I had today could have palm oil in it and the cocoa powder could be made from unsustainable cocoa."

A 2021 report by conservation charity World Wildlife Fund found an area two-fifths the size of Wales was needed abroad for Welsh imports including cocoa, palm, beef and soy in an average year between 2011-2018.

As a result, it said, thousands of species including orangutan and wild cat populations were threatened with extinction.

The charity Size of Wales, behind the deforestation-free schools project, wants the Welsh government to require supply chains be free from deforestation and social exploitation, as well as support for farmers to help them eliminate livestock feed linked to deforestation.

Spokeswoman Nicky James said it was important children knew their food could be linked to deforestation.

"It's really so that the children not only understand the issue but that they also feel empowered to do something about it otherwise these issues can become overwhelming," she added.

The Welsh government said: "We want Wales to be a globally responsible nation that considers children today and in the future, wherever they may live.

"This means making different choices, which don't harm people or the environment."

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