/ ©: WWF-Brazil

Responsible Soy

Soy production has more than doubled over the last 2 decades, and is continuing to increase at a rapid rate. This expansion is taking place in fragile areas such as the Cerrado in Brazil, the Chaco Region in Argentina and even into the Amazon.

But what is also growing is the number of options that the soy industry has to reduce its negative 'footprint'.

Over the last few decades, vast areas of forest, grassland and savannah have been cleared to make room for soy agriculture. Much of this land is rich in species, some of which exist nowhere else on Earth.

For example, the Brazilian Cerrado (a little-known but precious savanna) once covered over 200 million haan area the size of Mexico. Since the 1950s, soy plantations have replaced around half the natural vegetation.

While this has helped to increase meat production and has brought economic benefits to the countries that produce and trade soy, carrying on with business as usual will mean further loss of natural spaces and wildlife. Increased carbon emissions will exacerbate the already formidable challenges of climate change.

But solutions exist that will allow us to meet the need for soy and other agricultural commodities while conserving biodiversity and crucial ecosystems. This is all the more imperative as all indications are that demand for soy will continue to rise well into this century.

Our approach

A world where soybean agriculture no longer causes negative environmental impacts in the Amazon, Cerrado, Chaco and Atlantic Forest ecosystems, but also elsewhere in the world, is only possible if businesses take a leading role in transforming the soy industry toward better practices.

WWF is helping to catalyze this transformation.

We work with major companies and their supply chains to change the way soy is produced, processed, consumed and financed.

Working with us, large retailers, manufacturers, traders and investors can produce commodities more efficiently and responsibly. By creating demand for such products, we can protect the environment and markets will become more responsible.

WWF has helped set up the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS). Through the RTRS, environmental and social NGOs, soy producers and traders, finance institutions, manufacturers, retailers and companies in the feed industry collaborate toward responsible soy production and use.

In practice, this involves developing and implementing better practices for producing, processing and trading soy, and working to build a market for certified responsible soy.

 

WWF Targets

2020: 25% of global soy production is certified by the Roundtable for Responsible Soy (RTRS).
 

Progress

0.41% of global global soy production is RTRS certified (based on data available as of January 2014).

► Read more about how WWF works with the soy industry

Better Production for a Living Planet

 / ©: WWF
How can we move production to more sustainable practices? Find out about WWF's Market Transformation Initiative ►

Context

Threats
  • Forest clearing;
  • Loss of biodiversity, pollution;
  • Disregard for community and indigenous rights, and displacement of smallholder subsistence crops;
  • Capital intensive and large scale.

Opportunities
  • The plant provides three main products: soy oil (for human consumption and biofuel), soybeans for human consumption and soy meal for animal feed;
  • RTRS certification can work as the mainstream solution to drive responsibility in the soy sector globally;
  • RTRS ensures safe working conditions;
  • RTRS standards support good agricultural practices.

Be part of the solution

► Businesses: join the RTRS, and in the case of growers, begin certifying farms according to the RTRS standard.
Investors: Implement investment screens that are aligned with the RTRS criteria and provide financial incentives to companies that produce and buy responsible soy.
Consumers: Approximately 80% of the soy produced in the world goes to feed cattle, pigs, chickens and farmed fish. Most of the rest goes directly into food (such as margarines and cooking oils). Consumers can reduce their environmental impact by eating smart—more fruit, vegetables and cereals. A healthy diet is a sustainable diet.
  •  / ©: RTRS
    The Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) is an international multi-stakeholder initiative founded in 2006 that promotes the use and growth of responsible production of soy. responsiblesoy.org

Priority Countries

  • Production
    Brazil, USA, India, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay

    Markets
    China (largest importer globally), EU (Netherlands – largest
    importer in the EU), USA

    Present Focal Regions
    Amazon, Cerrado, Chaco region of Paraguay, Atlantic Forest
    (Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina), Argentina

Trends

  • Demand Drivers
    Income, population, consumption

    Future focus for success

    RTRS will further expand certification in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and India, and begin responsible production in Bolivia, and Uruguay. RTRS will focus on increasing both supply and demand for certified soy in China and the USA.

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