US – Over 25 organizations have urged the U.S. State Department to halt imports of avocados connected to deforestation in Mexico.

The demand stems from concerns that illegal deforestation threatens monarch butterfly habitats and undermines international agreements aimed at ending such practices.

Mexico’s avocado industry has been clearing approximately 10 football fields of forest each day to expand avocado plantations, according to a letter distributed by the Center for Biological Diversity.

Mexico supplies nearly 90% of the avocados sold in the United States, which amounts to over 2.4 billion pounds of avocados in 2023, valued at USD 2.7 billion.

“U.S. avocado imports are fueling deforestation just when we desperately need intact forests to fight the biodiversity and climate crises,” said Tanya Sanerib, international legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

She highlighted the impact on monarch butterflies and forests and called for the end of imports from recently deforested areas.

Avocado cultivation requires significant amounts of water, which depletes resources for local communities and leaves native forests vulnerable to fires and diseases.

The letter also addressed threats to government inspectors and violence against local community members who oppose deforestation.

“Forests, monarchs, and local communities will benefit greatly if we curb avocado imports from recently deforested land,” Sanerib emphasized. She noted that rewarding law-abiding avocado growers with access to the U.S. market while shutting out those involved in illegal activities is a better approach.

Many Mexican growers operate legal, long-standing avocado farms that could continue supplying the United States if imports from deforested lands are banned.

Stopping such imports would also aid monarch butterflies, which environmental groups say need urgent protection.

Monarchs are currently considered a candidate species for U.S. Endangered Species Act protection.

The letter warned that the current overwintering monarch population is the second-lowest ever recorded, representing only a fraction of the population size required to prevent migratory collapse.

For all the latest fresh produce industry news updates from Africa, the Middle East, and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.