WWF Statement on the "GM Soy Debate"



Posted on 12 December 2008  | 
We would like to reassure all WWF supporters that WWF does NOT support GMOs (genetically modified organism). We understand that the text on the GM soy debate web site may have mislead many to believe that WWF supports GMOs.

We apologise for this and any distress caused.

WWF's position on GMOs is:
  • Where it is proposed that GMOs be released in to the environment, WWF wishes to see a strong precautionary approach to environmental and social impacts and transparent monitoring for such impacts.
  • Use and environmental releases of GMOs should be subject to a rigorous case-by-case approval process by governments and designated government authorities before approval is given for a GMO in a country.
  • Regulatory frameworks for environmental use and release of GMOs (including field trials and commercialisation) should support the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and should implement its provisions, including risk assessment and risk management, at national level.

Precisely because GM soy is already present in the environment and soy is implicated very strongly in deforestation that its impacts need study and debate. The work by Wageningen University and the "GM Soy Debate" in Amsterdam on 9 December was intended to contribute to greater understanding of the issues.

From WWF's perspective, the key question on soy is how to reduce the major environmental and social impacts of soy cultivation, including impacts of GM soy.

Key components of this question are
  • how to prevent soy and livestock ranching pushing further into natural habitats in areas like the Amazon, Cerrado and related priority places for biodiversity conservation, and
  • how to reduce the overall global “footprint” of the soy and livestock industries.
In some circumstances this footprint may be reduced by producing more from less while also enabling farmers to earn a decent living.

WWF is pursuing various strategies to address the environmental and social issues associated with soy production, including:
  • Successful conclusion of the Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS), with strong environmental and social safeguards, and
  • cost efficient options for certifying and recognising soy production that complies with these safeguards. (WWF is one of the founding members of the RTRS)

Until the RTRS is up and running, promoting Basel Criteria Soy (non GMO) to soy buyers.
  • Enforcement of land use planning policies (including identifying and protecting high conservation values), voluntary initiatives such as the Amazon Soy Moratorium, and use of degraded/under-used land for further soy development.
  • Engagement with companies all along the soy supply chain to persuade them to commit to responsible soy targets.
  • Attitude change among consumers in rich countries e.g. consuming smaller portions, skipping meat X times per week, etc, and
  • helping developing countries to increase improved health and diets without making the same mistakes as in the west.
WWF will review its involvement in the GM soy dialogue project in the coming weeks. We do still consider that the project's aim, i.e. to foster debate on the basis of scientific information that responds to key stakeholder issues, is worthwhile. WWF will work to ensure that the debate is better formulated and that there is a mechanism in place to include all views and concerns of not only those people or groups that have joined the dialogue but other interested stakeholders as well.

At the Amsterdam meeting there were clear requests expressed on correcting the potentially misleading text on the GM soy website. WWF supports this view and have already asked the dialogue organizers to do so. They have agreed and assured us they will do so quickly.

We hope this answers the concerns raised and thank all those who wrote in to WWF on this issue.

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