Brussels and Montevideo – Today an initial 219 groups from 30 countries issued a public letter  to the members of the Roundtable of Responsible Soya  rejecting the new “responsible” label for industrial soya, due to be launched at the RTRS conference in Brazil on 9-10 June. They call the label “Green-Wash”, saying it will make matters worse, not better.
Calling on consumers and supermarkets to ignore the label and instead reduce our reliance on industrial soya, the letter lays out a number of flaws, including in criteria for the label, that are so serious they effectively make it meaningless. These problems include:
- The RTRS itself lacks support, major players are resigning and key stakeholders are ignored;
- The label would call genetically modified soya “responsible” without acknowledging either the severe impacts on the livelihoods and health of communities living around soya fields or the increasing agronomic problems GM soya causes, like “super-weeds” (GM soya accounts for around 60% of global soya production);
- The label does not address deforestation of the Amazon, greenhouse gas emissions or the social conflicts caused by displacing people and agricultural activities elsewhere when soya moves in;
- The RTRS is trying to turn destructive industrial soya into carbon credits for multinational companies like Monsanto.
Commenting on the label’s criteria, Eve Mitchell of FWE said, “It is abundantly clear that the RTRS is not about sustainability or responsibility – whatever they say in their press releases. It is about keeping the soya treadmill going for unaccountable multinational companies who need to pretend what they are doing is safe when everyone can see it is far from it.”
The letter sets out a number of agricultural reforms for “real solutions to a sustainable food production system”, like ending “shocking levels of overconsumption and waste in the industrialised world”, promoting land reform and research into agro-ecology, reducing Europe’s dependence on imported protein to feed our industrial meat and dairy production and ending the promotion of industrial agro-fuels as a “green” solution to climate change.
Commenting, Ms Mitchell said: “It is a sign of just how bad the RTRS is that so many groups from so many countries have rejected their flagship project. This label will not tell consumers how to eat more responsibly, but will instead try to trick them into putting more money into the pockets of big companies. Instead of buying into this deception, European supermarkets need to provide what their customers increasingly want: fresh, local food supporting the efforts of their own farmers to work to the highest standards.”
On the consequences of soya production, Alberto Villarreal for FWW in Uruguay said: “Rural families live in fear and hunger because soya steals their land and their way of life. It destroys whole ecosystems and communities. This is the International Year of Biodiversity, but the RTRS wants to keep this damage hidden and manipulate consumers who want to buy more responsibly. We would tell them: Don’t believe anything the RTRS says.”
Eve Mitchell for Food and Water Europe, Scottish Highlands (GMT +1) Tel: +44 (0)1381 610 740
Alberto Villarreal for Food and Water Watch Latin America, Montevideo (GMT -3) Tel: +598 98 466 398 Full letter available at http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/world/europe/agriculture/round-table-on-responsible-soy/  For full RTRS membership see http://www.responsiblesoy.org/.
Food & Water Europe is the European program of Food and Water Watch, Inc (a non-profit consumer NGO based in Washington, DC), working to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.