Soy roundtable | WWF

Soy roundtable

The devastating impact of soy agriculture on South America’s ecosystems, from the Amazon to the Cerrado, is not just a local issue—it represents an urgent global problem that requires a global response.

This is why the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) was established in 2006.
As a multi-stakeholder initiative involving the mainstream soy industry, the RTRS is the best international mechanism to move soy producers and traders toward responsible production that does not harm nature or people.

How does the RTRS work?

Through the RTRS, environmental and social NGOs, soy producers and traders, finance institutions, manufacturers, retailers and companies in the feed industry work together toward responsible soy production and use.

In practice, this involves developing and implementing globally applicable standards for the responsible production, processing and trade of soy; developing a certification system; and working to build a market for certified responsible soy.

The RTRS’s framework includes:
  • A Standard for responsible soy production which demands legal compliance, bans the conversion of areas with high conservation value to agricultural land, promotes the best management practices, ensures fair working conditions, and respects land tenure claims;
  • Certification Standards, to make sure that third-party auditors will certify soy producers who adhere to the RTRS standard, in a transparent and standardized way;
  • Chain-of-Custody Standards, to make sure that claims about products containing responsible soy in the market place can be verified;
  • A Certificate Trading Platform, to enable any soy grower to participate even if they do not have access to fully separated responsible soy supply chains;
  • A Code of Conduct that all members of the RTRS have to subscribe to;
  • A Grievance Procedure to enable impartial, fair and transparent review of alleged breaches of the RTRS Production Standard or Code of Conduct by RTRS members.

What has the RTRS achieved so far?

Jan 2013 RTRS announces that it has certified almost 1 million tonnes of soy during 2012.
May 2012 The RTRS has over 150 members from over 20 countries and all segments of the soy supply chain.
May 2012 11 producers certified to produce RTRS approved soy. 
Mid-2012 Nearly 150,000 hectares of soy plantations have been certified – equivalent to an area about half the size of Belgium.
June 2011 Industrial users buy the  first 85,000 tonnes (metric tonnes) of responsible soy.
May 2011 Independent, third-party auditors issue the world’s first certificate for responsibly produced soy.
June 2010 The RTRS adopts voluntary sustainability standards to ensure that current soy production and further expansion of the crop are done in an environmentally sound and socially responsible way that avoids clearance of native forests and high conservation value areas;

The RTRS’s EU RED Scheme, which was specifically developed for soy biofuels, is one of only seven schemes the European Commission recognized as compliant with the EU-RED (Renewable Energy Directive).

Where does WWF stand on the RTRS?

We support the RTRS, and believe it is currently the best global solution to an urgent worldwide problem.

Rather than considering the RTRS as a “silver bullet” to solve the problems associated with soy plantations’ expansion, we consider it to be one way to help reduce deforestation and biodiversity loss in South America.

WWF works with other RTRS members to continuously strengthen the scheme through participation on the RTRS Executive Board, as well as in a number of RTRS Working Groups. As a partner, we retain the right to criticize the platform when we feel it is necessary.
Round Table on Responsible Soy stakeholders in meeting.

Key facts

Established: November 2006
Governance: RTRS executive board has 15 members from 3 chambers (Environmental and Social NGOs, Industry and Trade, Producers).
Retailers, producers, feed industry, NGOs, banks

Round Table on Responsible Soy website


"The RTRS is a positive way for all organisations affected by soy to be part of the solution. But continuous improvement and strengthening is key."

► Read more about what Cassio Franco Moreira, Head of WWF-Brazil's Agriculture and Environment Programme, has to say on RTRS in this blog post [WWF-UK]

What does WWF want?

  • All soy producers to join the RTRS and begin certifying all their farms according to the RTRS scheme under a time-bound plan.
  • All companies that buy soy to commit to 100% RTRS certified soy (or soy produced with equivalent environmental and social safeguards) by 2015 under a time-bound plan and to begin purchasing RTRS soy as soon as possible.
  • Investors to implement investment screens aligned with the RTRS criteria (or equivalent), and to provide financial incentives to companies that produce and buy responsible soy.
  • Consumers to ask retailers and manufacturers to use only responsible soy, including the soy fed to livestock.
  • We are committed to ensuring there is a market for non-genetically modified (GM) soy in the long term, and encourage buyers that prefer non-GM to start buying RTRS non-GM soy (or other non-GM soy that offers the equivalent environmental and social safeguards).
Aerial view of Cerrado savannah area, Juruena National Park, Brazil. 
	© WWF / Zig KOCH
Aerial view of Cerrado savannah area, Juruena National Park, Brazil.
© WWF / Zig KOCH

RTRS principles

  • Under the scheme, soybeans may not be grown by clearing native forest. Key RTRS principles for soy include:
    • legal compliance
    • no deforestation of native forest
    • protection of important areas for nature or community land
    • no use of child or forced labour
    • safe and regulated use of pesticides

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Donate to WWF

Your support will help us build a future where humans live in harmony with nature.

Enter Yes if you accept the terms and conditions
Enter Yes if you accept the terms and conditions