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Roundtable on Responsible Soy – the Certifying Smoke Screen

May 23, 2012

Press Release:  Immediate release Tuesday 22nd May 2012 (slightly different version in English of a press release ASEED has send out in Dutch)

Roundtable on Responsible Soy – the Certifying Smoke ScreenFirst audit reports show failure of ‘responsible’ soy.

The RTRS has been described by campaigners in Europe as being a certifying smoke screen, misleading consumers and not providing any social or environmental improvements to soy production. They are demanding that instead of relying on this smokescreen companies in Europe must find ways to reduce their use of soy for animal feed and biofuels.

The RTRS is a voluntary certification scheme, which has received strong critique from organisations worldwide. It was established in May 2004 and formally launched in 2006 as the RTRS Association. Members include food and agribusiness giants including Cargill, Monsanto and Sainsbury’s, but also some NGO’s including WWF.

The first ten audit reports have now been published online. GM Freeze, Friends of the Earth and Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO Publishing) have scrutinised these reports, which confirm that there is not one single benefit to RTRS certification. There is no evidence of protection against deforestation, or of reduced use of pesticides. Nor is there any benefit for small farmers in the areas certified. Some small charitable gestures are taken as evidence of ‘good community relations’, while the reports show that Roundup Ready and other pesticide spraying occurs as close as 30 metres from people’s homes.

Pete Riley of GM Freeze in the UK said:

“RTRS standards do not improve any of the impacts of soy production – to be certified complying with local laws is all that is needed.  This means farmers can go on growing genetically modified  Roundup Ready soya in a manner that is highly damaging to the soil, environment and local communities. This simply cannot be described as matching the definition of responsible – ‘based on or characterised by good judgement or sound thinking’”.

“EU supermarkets should understand that consumers will not be fooled by this RTRS label which is merely greenwash  If they are serious about sustainability, they must  develop alternatives to soy animal feed imports  that support intensive production of  livestock.”

The RTRS UK members are ASDA, Greenergy, Marks and Spencer, Wm. Morrison’s, J. Sainsbury’s, The Co-Operative Group, Unilever and Waitrose.

The flaws and failings of the RTRS certification scheme include:

  • Weak forest protection measures only dating back to 2009.
  • Certification of unsustainable genetically modified RoundupReady (RR) soya monocultures. RR soy is dependent on glyphosate for weed control which is causing an escalation of pesticide use to cope with weed resistance to glyphosate.
  • Aerial application of glyphosate and other pesticides causing health problems for people living near soya plantations.
  • Poor channels of communication with local farmers and communities
  • Auditing processes which rubber stamp existing mediocre practice.
  • Unsatisfactory ‘mass balance’ traceability which does not provide surety for European consumers about the methods of production used.

For more details about the RTRS and the auditing process please see our briefing, Roundtable on Responsible Soya – the Certifying Smoke Screen.

[ENDS]

Calls to: Pete Riley (GM Freeze)  ++44 7903 341065, Nina Holland (Corporate Europe Observatory), ++31 6 302 85 042 or Kirtana Chandrasekaran +44 20 7566 1669 (Friends of the Earth)