WWF, the Round Table on Responsible Soy and genetically modified soy



Posted on 03 December 2010
Established in 2005, the RTRS is a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to facilitate a global dialogue on soy production that is economically viable, socially equitable and environmentally sound.

WWF has been targeted by some other NGOs for our participation in the RTRS. Some of the criticism has been in response to the decision by the RTRS Executive Board to accept Monsanto, a global company that promotes genetically modified (GM) technology, as a full member of the RTRS. These critics have accused WWF of greenwashing the GM soy industry and have asked WWF to end our involvement with the RTRS.

WWF does not agree with all the viewpoints presented within the RTRS, nor do we endorse the positions of all its stakeholders. However, WWF believes that by developing standards with other stakeholders, we can have a far greater impact than by refusing to participate. WWF’s participation in the RTRS does not negate WWF’s policy on GM organisms, nor should our participation in roundtable discussions be construed as WWF endorsing GM production simply because other members of the multi-stakeholder body happen to be active in this field.

WWF’s position on GM organisms includes:
  • A moratorium on use or release of GMOs into the general environment until ecological interactions are fully researched and safeguards put in place
  • Regulatory frameworks for environmental use and release of GMOs should support the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.
  • Transparent, comprehensive environmental impact assessment of planned releases into the environment
  • Avoidance of additional impacts through genetic modifications
  • The control of gene technology

See the WWF position on GM (PDF)

WWF believes that the RTRS cannot be effective in helping to prevent the environmental impacts of soy production, such as forest conversion, habitat loss, soil degradation, water use and pesticide use, unless it applies both to GM soy and GM-free soy. Eliminating GM soy producers from the RTRS would greatly limit its potential to mitigate critical environmental impacts of soy production. (One recent study estimates that GM soy represents 70% of the world’s soy production. This includes 98% of production in Argentina, 95% in the United States and 62% in Brazil.)

The roundtable format enables stakeholders to have an open dialogue on how best to mitigate environmental impacts and improve production practices of all soy production, regardless of genetic makeup.

At its General Assembly in June 2010, the RTRS approved set of principles and criteria (P&Cs) for responsible soy production that include requirements to halt conversion of all primary forests and areas with high conservation values, to promote best management practices, to ensure fair working conditions, and to respect land tenure claims. WWF offices in key soy producing and buying countries across the globe have worked to ensure that the RTRS certification standards encompass strong environmental safeguards. WWF continues to support the RTRS to ensure robust and credible implementation of these standards as the organization develops and launches its certification and verification systems for certified responsible soy.

WWF has also worked with RTRS stakeholders to establish a dedicated voluntary GM-free supply chain for RTRS soy and will continue to work to ensure that this GM-free supply chain is credibly implemented.


References:
http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/39/pptslides/Brief39Slides.pdf
http://faostat.fao.org/
http://www.portaldoagronegocio.com.br/conteudo.php?id=27527 

This is an updated statement from one opriginally published on 20 May 2009 under the title "WWF Statement on the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS)"

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