Sign the petition! RTRS will soon certify GM toxic soy as 'responsible'

[img_assist|nid=359|title=.|desc=|link=node|align=left|width=55|height=75]Coming May, the RTRS (Round Table on 'Responsible' Soy) intends to decide on a set of criteria for certified 'responsible' soy. From the beginning, it has been a deeply criticised and flawed project. GM toxic soy will be labeled as 'responsible', greenwashing the soy industry and confusing people. Complicit are NGOs like WWF and Solidaridad. A public campaign has started to demand these organisations to step down from the RTRS process. In Dutch you can sign the petition on www.gifsoja.nl. The international site is now online: www.toxicsoy.org .

Please forward widely - www.toxicsoy.org launched!

GM Toxic soy is not 'responsible'!

Can genetically engineered soy - grown with large amounts of agri-chemicals - ever be called 'responsible'? You probably consider this to be impossible. The damage that Monsanto's Roundup Ready soy has done in countries such as Argentina and Paraguay is enormous. Despite that, by the end of May this very same soy will be labelled 'responsible' by The Round Table on Responsible Soy.

Because this Round Table is supported by the World Wildlife Fund and the development organisation Solaridad GM toxic soy will be provided with a green image. By supporting this Round Table these two organisations think that they will help reduce the damage done by the soy industry. But it will have the opposite effect. Declaring GM products 'responsible' is a dangerous step that legitimises the further growth of toxic soy cultivation. The destruction of rainforests, instead of being halted, will still be permitted.

Read more about this on our website www.toxicsoy.org.

Sign our appeal to representatives of WWF and Solidaridad to withdraw their support for toxic soy. This petition will also be sent to the president of the RTRS, and a number of supermarkets that are RTRS member.

http://www.toxicsoy.org/toxicsoy/Action/action.html

Help us and forward this mail- preferably with an added personal message- to friends and family. If you want to circulate wider, a version in French is attached. Spanish below.

Thank you!

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NB: Below, you can read a reply to WWF Germany, who until recently still maintained that the RTRS had not yet decided about GM soy. This statement is simply wrong.

18 March 2009

To: WWF Germany
cc to: Solidaridad, Wageningen University

Belatedly, I would like to reply to the email by Sandra Martin (WWF Germany) of 15 December 2008, on WWF’s position regarding GMO soy (subject “Richtigstellung: Position des WWF zu gentechnisch verändertem Soya”). You will find this email (in German) pasted below.

In my view, Sandra Martin’s statements regarding WWF’s GMO position do not correspond with the reality of the so-called ‘Round Table on Responsible Soy’ (RTRS) and the ‘GM soy debate – Creating common sense on GM soy’ held in Amsterdam, December 2008. WWF is initiator of both the RTRS and the GM soy debate, and plays a leading role in both.

Coming May, the RTRS will present its Principles and Criteria for ‘responsible’ soy. The draft Principles and Criteria do not include a criterion on GMOs. Therefore, there will be no discrimination between GM and non-GM soy. As a matter of fact, from early on in the RTRS process, it has been crystal clear that the RTRS will certify GM soy as ‘responsible’. This, and many other problematic aspects of the RTRS, have already met with widespread rejection from campesino movements, other social movements, and NGO’s. (1)

Regarding WWF Germany’s email of December 2008:

WWF Germany suggests that it has not yet been decided that the RTRS will certify GM soy as ‘responsible’. WWF Germany literally states that: “Which role GM soy will play, is for this system (the RTRS, ed.) not yet decided. WWF is aiming for the RTRS also to include a GMO-free soy certification”. (emphasis added)

This suggestion is contradictory and simply wrong. Why there is no doubt (and never has been) that the RTRS will certify GM soy as ‘responsible’:

- In the draft RTRS ‘Principles and Criteria’, GM is not included as a criterion. Therefore, excluding GM soy from the ‘responsible’ certification system is officially not on the table.
- It is admitted in the WWF’s statement responding to the criticism unleashed when the RTRS accepted Monsanto and Syngenta as members: “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.
As stated clearly on its website, the RTRS process is inclusive of all soy production methods, including conventional, GMO, organic, etc. (2) WWF’s Richard Holland (rholland@wwf.nl) has recently confirmed again to Friends of the Earth that the RTRS will certify GM soy. Indeed, disqualifying GM RR soy would leave little to certify.
- The main Argentinean association of GM soy producers, AAPRESID, has been in the Steering Committee from the beginning.
- The one RTRS member who opposed GMOs, family farmer organisation FETRAF from Brazil, left the RTRS after one year as their issues were not being addressed, particularly GMO.

What is more, looking at the RTRS membership and the draft principles and criteria, it is clear that ‘responsible’ soy will mean:
• GM soy from large soy producers with bad track records, from recently deforested land, on which agrotoxics have been sprayed that are forbidden in the EU, such as Paraquat. This is why recently, Monsanto – maker of RoundupReady soy – and Syngenta – maker of Paraquat – are in the game.
• GM soy that is not supported by any small farmers organisation from the main producer countries, on the contrary: they and other organisations have spoken out against the RTRS, and protests were held, at every international RTRS conference.
• GM soy that serves the interests of its creators and patent holders, and of the producers of chemicals needed to produce it. Increasingly, weed resistance is becoming a problem, making it necessary to use more toxic cocktails (like Paraquat) to get rid of them.
• GM soy that will lead to a higher value of soy as a commodity, by certifying ‘responsible’ soy biodiesel. This is why Shell and BP are in the game.

WWF Germany suggests that WWF’s position on GMOs is that a strict precautionary principle should be maintained and that a transparent monitoring system should be in place.

There has never been an extensive, complete research and evaluation into the ecological, social and health consequences of GM RoundupReady soy prior to its release and import into the EU. Neither does there exist a ‘transparent monitoring system’ of the impacts. The environmental claims that RR soy would use less herbicide quickly proved to be unfounded. Indiscriminate and uncontrolled spraying of a toxic mix of herbicides, fungicides and insecticides, is causing strong negative impacts on human, animal and plant life through contamination of air, water and soil. It is very hard to obtain data on the human health impacts. For Paraguay, for instance, there are hardly any data.

Therefore, RTRS NGO members (f.i. WWF, Solidaridad, IUCN) could have excluded GM soy unconditionally from the start from any ‘responsible’ certification. They did not do so. By creating the RTRS, WWF provides business with a competitor certification scheme to the Basel criteria (that WWF claims it has helped to create and that exclude GMOs), which will make those Basel criteria quickly irrelevant for the largest producers. (3)

WWF Germany claims that the RTRS has had a public consultation round in which everyone could participate. And that, to avoid GM soy being labeled as ‘responsible’ other stakeholders could have joined.

Everyone with easy internet access, time and awareness of the process could have responded to the online consultation. But many campesino movements, other social movements and NGOs, who did become aware of the RTRS process, have refused to participate and rejected its objectives. By ignoring the broadly signed counter declarations to the RTRS from organisations and movements from Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, WWF Germany does not give the full picture regarding ‘stakeholder participation’.

WWF Germany suggests that the ‘GM soy debate’ conference, held in Amsterdam on 9 December 2008, is a purely scientific conference and that that does not mean that WWF supports GM soy.

As said, it is crystal clear that the RTRS, initiated by WWF, will certify GM (RoundupReady) soy as ‘responsible’. This will clearly meet with widespread public resistance in Europe. Therefore, the ‘GM soy debate’ is not an innocent, objective scientific conference. It was not coincidentally held just a few months before the launch of the RTRS principles and criteria. It has to be seen in the context of preparing the European public to accept a ‘responsible’ label for GM soy.

WWF is putting money into this research process, while even industry admitted at the GM soy debate conference that the research proposal was poorly constructed. Friends of the Earth criticised it for its industry biased approach. The ‘scientific’ report of this process will be published soon. Solidaridad is supporting the GM soy debate, even though socio-economic impacts of GM soy are excluded from the scope of the research. There is no sign of a similar debate being started on those impacts, whereas one would expect that to be the special interest of Solidaridad.

Remarkably, WWF’s name and logo have since disappeared from the GM soy debate website (4), leaving Solidaridad and Wageningen University on their own. It will indeed be interesting to see how WWF will explain GM ‘responsible’ soy to their members, the press and the public at large in Germany and elsewhere. Ironically in a time when the German Minister of Agriculture is way ahead, and considering to ban Monsanto's GM corn, because genetic engineering “has so far not yielded tangible benefits for the people", and that “consumers are opposed to genetically modified plants and farmers don't want them”. (5)

Notes
(1)
International Counter Declarations 2005, 2006, 2008:
http://www.lasojamata.org/en/node/37
The Friends of the Earth International Declaration:
http://www.foei.org/en/publications/pdfs/FoEI-RTRS.pdf/
The Global Forest Coalition open letter:
http://www.globalforestcoalition.org/news/view/89
Action at GM soy debate, 9 December 2008:
http://www.lasojamata.org/en/node/289

(2) http://www.panda.org/what_we_do/policy/?156602/Involvement-in-the-RTRS-C...

(3) This is not to say the Basel criteria should be supported. They do not tackle the problem of soy expansion and indirect impacts either. Though not allowing GMOs, they do allow forest conversion by large landowners, if ‘compensation’ is provided (at least on paper) elsewhere; this fits into the approach of markets for ‘environmental services’.

(4) http://gmsoydebate.global-connections.nl/

(5) Der Spiegel, Monsanto's uphill battle in Germany, March 6, 2009
http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,611582-2,00.html
======================================

> > WWF Sandra Martin [mailto:sandra.martin@wwf.de] wrote:
> >
> > Richtigstellung: Position des WWF zu gentechnisch verändertem Soya
> >
> > Diskussion im Zusammenhang mit der GM Soy Debate /Stakeholder Conference
> > (9. Dezember 2008, Amsterdam)
> > http://gmsoydebate.global-connections.nl/content/stakeholder-conference
> >
> > Rund um die "GM Soy Debate", einer wissenschaftlichen Stakeholder
> > Konferenz am 9. Dezember in Amsterdam, entstanden Diskussionen bezüglich
> > der Position des WWF zu gentechnisch verändertem Soja. Der WWF
> > Deutschland möchte hiermit unmissverständlich klarstellen, dass WWF
> > Deutschland gentechnisch verändertes Soja nicht unterstützt und nicht
> > als nachhaltig bezeichnet. Der WWF vertritt die Meinung, dass ein
> > Engagement in wissenschaftlicher Forschung und einer öffentlichen
> > Debatte, um die Thematik mit allen Stakeholdern tiefgründig und nach den
> > neusten wissenschaftlichen Kenntnissen zu analysieren, nicht
> > gleichbedeutend ist mit einer Unterstützung der Sache an sich.
> >
> > Der WWF hat global seine Meinung zum Thema gentechnisch veränderte
> > Organismen (GVOs) formuliert und verlangt ein strenges Vorsorgeprinzip
> > im Einsatz und in der Anwendung sowie ein transparentes
> > Monitoringsystem. Demnach sollen keine gentechnisch veränderten
> > Organismen verwendet werden, solange die ökologischen Auswirkungen nicht
> > vollständig untersucht und evaluiert sind. Überall dort wo GVOs dennoch
> > in der Umwelt eingesetzt werden, fordert der WWF ein rigoroses und
> > fallspezifisches Genehmigungsverfahren durch Regierungen und designierte
> > Regierungsstellen bevor GVOs in einem Land genehmigt werden.
> >
> > WWF hat sich zum Ziel gesetzt, der weltweiten Naturzerstörung der Erde
> > Einhalt zu gebieten und eine Zukunft zu gestalten, in der die Menschen
> > mit der Natur in Harmonie leben. Der Anbau von gentechnisch veränderten
> > Sojapflanzen ist in vielen Ländern bereits Realität und hat Auswirkungen
> > auf die dortigen Ökosysteme. Mit dieser Realität sieht sich auch der WWF
> > konfrontiert und versucht Lösungswege zu erarbeiten, die die
> > ökologischen Auswirkungen so gering wie möglich halten. Um diese
> > Auswirkungen, die durch den Einsatz von gentechnisch veränderten
> > Organismen entstehen, besser abschätzen zu können, hat sich der WWF
> > Niederlande dazu entschlossen, eine wissenschaftliche Debatte zu dem
> > sehr komplexen Thema zu unterstützen, die über die reine Pro- und Contra
> > Argumentation hinausgehen soll. Der WWF vertritt die Meinung, dass ein
> > Engagement in wissenschaftlicher Forschung und einer öffentlichen
> > Debatte, nicht einer Unterstützung der Sache an sich gleichkommt.
> > Weiterhin orientiert sich der WWF bei seinen Handlungen und
> > Kooperationen mit Unternehmen an der oben genannten Position zum Thema
> > gentechnisch veränderte Organismen. WWF unterstützt genauso
> > Veranstaltungen die sich ausschließlich mit GVO freiem Soja beschäftigen
> > und hat u.a. die sog. Baseler Kriterien entwickelt.
> >
> > Soja nach den Basler Kriterien ist garantiert gentechnikfrei und hält
> > darüber hinaus auch noch weitere zusätzliche soziale und ökologische
> > Kriterien ein, wie z.B. ein Umwandlungsverbot für Primärvegetation und
> > Flächen mit hohem Schutzwert in Ackerland nach 2004, Erhaltung der
> > Boden- und Wasserqualität durch geeignete Anbaumethoden, Verbot von
> > Kinder- und Zwangsarbeit, sowie existenzsichernde Löhne und eine
> > lückenlose Rückverfolgbarkeit und unabhängige Kontrollen.
> >
> > Seit 2005 engagiert sich WWF auch im Runden Tisch Soja (Roundtable on
> > Responsible Soy) um ein globales nachhaltiges Zertifizierungssystem
> > aufzubauen. Derzeit sind die Kriterien einem öffentlichen
> > Konsultationsprozess unterzogen, an dem sich jeder beteiligen kann. Wie
> > und welche Rolle GVO freies Soja dort spielen wird, ist für dieses
> > System noch nicht entschieden. Der WWF setzt sich dafür ein, dass unter
> > dem der RTRS auch eine Zertifizierung von gentechnikfreiem Soja
> > eingerichtet wird.