Brazil is experiencing a surge in planting of sugar cane crops driven by internal markets and external policy drivers for biofuels. The current expectation is for the expansion of these crops to continue. This creates concern over the extent to which the full implications of large scale land use change are currently being considered by decision-makers. Using the State of São Paulo as a case study (as it accounts for the majority of sugar cane grown in Brazil), a comparison was made of the impacts identified in Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) and Preliminary Environmental Reports (PERs), which have to be submitted for approval of most new sugar cane activities, with significant impacts known to be associated with sugar cane activities derived from literature review. The results from a review of 32 EISs and PERs (30% of the population) indicated that whilst some impacts were well covered by the sample (water and soil pollution, and air emissions) energy balance and Green House Gas emissions and food security had very limited consideration, and water resources, residues, labour conditions and social responsibility were only partially covered. Environmental Impact Assessment is constrained by its environmental advocacy role and its application to the project level only. This study highlights its limitations in the context of assessment of land use change which demands more strategic consideration.