Certified soy enters marketplace in milestone purchase



Posted on 08 June 2011  | 
Dutch buyers have purchased the first batch of soy certified by the Round Table on Responsible Soy’s (RTRS), marking a historic turning point in the organization’s efforts to help stop deforestation by bringing socially and environmentally responsible soy to the marketplace.

The Brazilian producer Grupo Andre Maggi had two farms equaling about 70,000 hectares certified under the Round Table’s criteria late last month, and in a special ceremony celebrated with the Dutch Sustainable Soy Initiative (IDS) the purchase of its certified soy.

The IDS represents the following group of major Dutch companies: Nevedi (the feed industry association), FrieslandCampina, Vion, Gebr. Van Beek Group, 2 Sisters Storteboom and Ahold.

The purchase was announced at a special media event in Rotterdam today featuring the Dutch government, Maggi, IDS, and other members of the Round Table including WWF.

“This is a historic moment in efforts to bring certified soy to the global marketplace – an important tool to help stop deforestation caused by soy expansion into our remaining forests and other biomes,” said Cassio Moreira, Coordinator of WWF Brazil’s Agriculture and Environment Program, who also serves on the RTRS board. “After years of work, this purchase shows tangible progress by the Round Table on Responsible Soy to make responsible soy available.”

“However, there is still a long way to go before the RTRS can realize its vision for a transformed mainstream soy industry. WWF calls on all buyers of soy, including retailers, manufactures and animal feed producers to commit to RTRS soy and begin purchasing it as soon as possible.”

This first certified soy comes after members of the RTRS, which includes WWF as a member, adopted at their June 2010 meeting voluntary sustainability standards to help ensure that current soy production and further expansion of the crop will be done in an environmentally sound and socially responsible way that avoids clearance of native forests and other priority areas for conservation.

The standards also called for soy production to avoid polluting the environment and creating social conflicts.

Expanding soy production has been linked to the dramatic loss of natural habitats, especially forests and savannahs, in South America. Soy fields have already replaced much of Brazil's savannahs ( the Cerrado) and the Argentinean Chaco, as well as threatening the Amazon by pushing cattle ranching into that area. The expansion of soy production also threatens the livelihoods of local communities. Agriculture contributed to the disappearance of most of the Atlantic Forest in southern Brazil and eastern Paraguay in the 1970s and 1980s – a scenario that could be repeated in other regions as the global demand for soy is expected to double by 2050.

Soybeans are used in the production of feed for cattle, pigs, poultry and fish, edible oil, and foods. More recently, soy has been used in the production of biofuels to meet increasing energy needs.

Hojas de soya verde, Rondonópolis, Brasil
© Adriano Gambarini / WWF-Brasil Enlarge

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