GM soy and common sense do not go together!
Land reforms! NO Steakholder Conferences! Banner Action at GM Soy Conference.
On December 9th A SEED Europe held a picket-line at the “Creating common sense on GM soy!”-conference in Amsterdam, where representatives from Solidaridad, WWF, Wageningen University and the soy industry were discussing sustainability risks and benefits of GM soy and formulating management options for companies.
A SEED reminded participants upon arrival that not only is GM still controversial, but so is large-scale soy production in general (see below). A SEED did not participate in the conference itself because the announcement made clear that in our eyes crucial poignant issues in the (GM) soy debate were not open for discussion. The organisors want to have a dialogue with the soy industry and that is impossible if the use of GM crops or production reduction are on the table.
As long as the political context of the export-driven economical developments and objections of the small farmers in the soy producing countries are being taken for granted by involved companies and NGOs like Solidaridad and WWF, events like this conference are mainly greenwash attempts..
Despite the announcement of the organisation expecting over 100 participants, the protesters could not count more that 50 people entering the conference. This should be a disappointment for the organisation, the more so as the online GM soy debate, of which this conference is part, is still completely quiet.
'NGO's' publicly come out as the advocate of gm soy
On the conference website it is said that the “outcomes may be used by decision-makers around the
world to make soy production more sustainable.”(1) This is the first time ever that 'NGO's' publicly come out as the advocate of gm soy and try to make it acceptable. In view of the devastation caused by (gm) soy to the South American continent, this is a more than appalling greenwash exercise.
Genetic manipulation is one of the main controversies at the Round Table for Responsible Soy(2). By finding compromises on this point the involved organisations hope to speed up the process of
certifying Round-up ready soy for the European market. Moreover, the organisers refuse to see the issues of soy production and GMOs as a political conflict: The policy context (policy, regulation, law) is regarded as a constant factor in the short-term and is therefore not subject to discussion or recommendations.”(3) This makes a useful discussion impossible, already in advance.
reasons of NO acceptance of GM-soy:
The main drivers behind the introduction of genetically manipulated soy are the seed companies. The same companies are involved in selling the pesticides that go together with the GM-variety. In most cases this is the seed multinational Monsanto with it's herbicide Round-up and it's 'roundup-ready' GM-soy beans. Despite all nice promises, in practice the use of herbicides has increased after the introduction of GM-soy. The main argument to use GM-crops is a higher yield. But in practice, the GM crops are not performing as they were expected to do. The costs are increasing, while the average GM yield many times decreases in comparison with conventional crops. (4) It is possible to speculate about theoretical future gm applications, but this is not the current tough reality that South America has to deal with. The only interesting question should be WHY the introduction of GM-soy can be allowed to continue.
Negative social and ecological impacts of soy
The core of the problems related to soy production are the volume of the production and the scale of the monoculture. The only real solution is to reduce the soy production and consumption in order to free land for small farmers, local food production and nature. Voluntary certification does not do anything to stop the growing demand for soy. Companies and some NGOs inside this conference have the opinion that this is unrealistic. But the reality is that many small farmers lost their
land and their livelihood and still want it back. The reality is that the inhabitants of those soy-republics would like to have a healthy diet too, away from roundup-ready soy fields. The reality is
that most soy is used for meat production and that this is an inefficient way to feed people. Another reality is that the Chinese and Indian people are starting to copy our diet and our consumption
pattern, something we (in the west) are not in the position to comment on. Continuing with the current production volume and export to Europe is neo-colonial and perverse.
Link with the Round Table on Responsible Soy
Officially this GM-soy debate is not part of the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS), “an international multi-stakeholder initiative that brings together those concerned with the impacts of
the soy economy.” But Solidaridad and WWF, the two initiators of this debate, are both actively involved in the RTRS as well. A 'successful' outcome of this conference can speed up the process of
the Round Table. Due to its participants and limited goals we don't believe that the Round table can have a positive outcome. A possible reduction of production and export is not even a goal of the Round Table. The big landowners don't talk about land reforms, the main soy traders don't talk about a reduced export and the biggest butchers don't talk about a reduction of meat consumption. But as long as they sit around their round table they can say that they are trying to solve the apparent social and ecological problems. It is a typical example of greenwashing and this debate is part of it.
For land reform, for food sovereignty, for the right to live in a healthy environment free of agrotoxics!
(1) Quote from the Scope on the website of the debate: http://gmsoydebate.global-connections.nl
(2) Website Round Table: http://www.responsible soy.org
(3) Quote from the Scope on the website of the debate: http://gmsoydebate.global-connections.nl
(4) 'New Soil Association report shows GM crops do not yield more – sometimes less': http://tinyurl.com/soilassociation
Genetically Engineered Roundup Ready Soy less profitable than conventionally bred varietes: http://www.psrast.org/rrsoyfailure.htm