The RTRS is an undeserved "green" label for a bad product that causes a lot of damage to people and environment in South America. In reaction to the petition the Minster expressed understanding for the concerns of the petition signatories, but trusts that the round table process will result in a more sustainabel soy production.
At the start of the GMO Conference 2009 A SEED made participants jump through a hoop, protesting the Dutch approach of the international discussion about socio-economic impacts of genetically manipulated crops like GM soy. Conference participants also received a Toxicsoy newsletter and a pamphlet.
Text protest pamphlet:
Dutch debate on socio-economic impacts GMO’s:
Sidetracking the real issues?
The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture today organises a conference about a very important topic: the socio-economic impacts of GMO’s. End of last year, the EU Environment Ministers decided that socio-economic criteria should be developed for GMO’s. But at this conference, the real issues seem to get sidetracked.
The Dutch Agriculture Ministry and the conference organisers are using this debate for another aim: to set the ground for a ‘review’ of the EU GMO policy. They claim, along with the biotech and animal feed industry, that the EU admission procedure for new GMO’s is too slow. In particular, they want to see the EU zero-tolerance policy regarding non-authorised GMO’s to be abolished. The argument for this is that this policy causes economic damages for Europe’s factory farms. The focus therefore is not on the real socio-economic impacts that soy production and factory farms cause around the world.
Critical speakers on RR soy production (including the Paraguayan Minister of Environment) were refused for the conference sessions, whereas RR soy production is known for its damaging social and economic impacts. The reason given was that this conference ‘should not be focused on soy’. However, one session at this conference is precisely about the ‘Round Table on Responsible Soy’ (RTRS), with speakers from Syngenta and Grupo DAP, a controversial Paraguayan soy producing and investment company.
The RTRS has been criticised and rejected by a great number of organisations. Not one South American small farmers’ or indigenous peoples’ organisation is a member of the RTRS. Nevertheless, the RTRS is supported by the Dutch government as a way to avoid taking responsibility for the damage done by the massive Dutch GM soy imports. Over 10.500 people have sent a message to Ministers Verburg and Koenders asking them to withdraw the Dutch government’s financial support for the RTRS. At this conference, these signatures will be handed over to Minister Verburg.
A report on the reality behind the ‘responsible soy’ company Grupo DAP will be available at this conference. Local communities in San Pedro, Paraguay, have protested against Grupo DAP’s arrival in their area, starting large scale soy plantations. A few years later, complaints about the impact of DAP’s soy fields for the community have not silenced. The report can also be downloaded from: www.corporateeurope.org
A new report will be launched soon about another soy expansion region, North West Argentina. There, both indigenous and gaucho communities are fighting for their rights to land and against the rampant deforestation in the area. In North West Argentina, where the soy sector is particularly associated with violence, repression and corruption, the RTRS has been particularly active doing outreach, among those soy producers. This report will be available on: www.chaya.org.ar