More than 600 scientists across Europe have organised a petition to the EU, urging it to ensure that any trade negotiations with Brazil include conditions on sustainable agricultural practices in the South American country.

The signatories of the petition have raised fears over Brazil’s record on environmentalism and human rights in its agriculture sector.

They contend that the country has seen widespread deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest to create more space for farming, and that this is in conflict with the human rights of the indigenous people who live in these regions.

The group of scientists claim that: “The EU is a world leader in importing commodities that drive deforestation.”

“Between 1990-2008, the EU imported over one-third of all internationally traded crops and livestock products associated with deforestation,” according to a statement on the website, which was set up by the petition organisers.

“Alarmingly, Brazil’s new administration is working to dismantle anti-deforestation policy. Ongoing deforestation in Brazil puts indigenous rights, global climate stability and species conservation at risk,” warned the statement.

The group of scientists said that the EU has a “critical opportunity” to make the issues of deforestation and the environment a priority in negotiations.

The letter was also published in Science, a scientific academic journal.

According to the figures quoted in the letter, in 2011 alone, the EU imported beef and livestock feed from Brazil “associated with more than 1,000km²” of deforestation in the country – or 300 soccer fields per day.

“The EU thus urgently needs to strengthen efforts on sustainable trade and uphold its commitments on human rights, environmental protection and climate change mitigation,” said the letter.