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New standards for growing soy will destroy forests, livelihoods and the climate

category international | environment | press release author Thursday May 28, 2009 21:20author by Friends of the Earth International - Friends of the Earth International Report this post to the editors


New standards for growing soy will destroy forests, livelihoods and the

Friends of the Earth International Press Release


New standards for growing soy will destroy forests, livelihoods and the

Campinas (Brazil), Brussels (Belgium), 27 May 2009 - A new initiative to
re-brand the intensive and damaging farming of soy as "responsible" is
nothing short of green-wash and will con the public, said Friends of the
Earth International today.

The warning comes as the so-called Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS)
meets on 28 May in Campinas, Brazil to agree new voluntary standards on
the cultivation of soy. Even environmentally-damaging genetically
modified soy will be called "responsible". [1]

Over half of the world's soy is grown in South America and Europe is the
largest importer. Nearly all soy is used as cheap animal feed but soy
oil is increasingly being used as a biofuel. Its well-documented
expansion in recent years has led to widespread deforestation, social
conflicts, high pesticide use and huge releases of greenhouse gases.
[See notes below for key soy facts]

Adrian Bebb from Friends of the Earth said:

"/This scheme is nothing short of green-wash and should be abandoned.
The standards they are developing will legitimise a devastating system
of soy cultivation that is wiping out forests and destroying small
farmer livelihoods for the benefit of a handful of very big landowners
and multinational corporations. The only responsible soy is less soy."

"/We need to tackle the real problems behind this damaging system such
as over-consumption in industrialised countries and the inequitable
distribution of resources like land and water. We urgently need real
solutions that protect the environment and communities and promote food
sovereignty over the interests of big business/".

Friends of the Earth International claims that the RTRS is a green con

- it will fail to stop the expansion of soy plantations which is causing
severe damage to communities, biodiversity and the climate. In doing so
it promotes the interests of agri-business corporations who are
expanding soy plantations and legitimizes their damaging industrial
practices. [2]
- it will not stop deforestation - soy grown on former forest and other
unique ecosystems like savannah's, even if destroyed very recently,
could be certified as "responsible" thus contributing to, rather than
halting, deforestation.
- genetically modified (GM) soy can be certified, even though there is
clear evidence of how pesticide use increases with GM soy crops, and of
damage to communities' health from spraying these chemicals.
- small scale farmers, indigenous groups and civil society are largely
excluded from the RTRS process and many oppose it.
- consumers will be fooled into thinking food and fuel produced using
"responsible" soy is helping the environment without realizing that the
opposite is true, and that it is encouraging the expansion of GM crops
in South America
- it is already being implicated in the attempted weakening of national
laws on agrochemical use in Paraguay. RTRS criteria require compliance
with national laws, but a new bill, introduced by allies of soy
producers and other agribusiness companies, would weaken existing
legislation making it easier to comply with [3].

To address climate change, global loss of biodiversity, human rights
abuses, and to deal with the food price crisis, Friends of the Earth
International is calling for:

- reduced dependence on soy as an animal feed and a halt to the use of
crops to produce biofuels
- increased political and financial support for greener forms of farming
as recognized by the recently adopted UN International Agriculture
Assessment [4]
- less and better meat consumption in industrialized countries which is
good for the environment and for public health
- the scrapping of all biofuel targets that are contributing to the
expansion of agriculture, wildlife loss and higher food prices.
- sustainable and equitable farming policies that enable all regions and
countries to feed themselves and their livestock and not be
over-dependent on imports.

Over 80 organisations from around the world have signed up to a letter
of critical opposition to the RTRS proposal. [4]


Adrian Bebb - Friends of the Earth (Brussels/Europe) +49 1609 490 1163
(mobile) adrian.bebb@foeurope.org

Clare Oxborrow - Friends of the Earth (London) +44 20 7566 1716 (Direct)
+44 7712 843211 (mobile) clare.oxborrow@foe.co.uk



[1] See final criteria are being
published on 28 May. The latest draft (April 2009) can be obtained from
Friends of the Earth.

[2] The main drivers behind the expansion of soy - agribusiness giants
Monsanto, Syngenta, Cargill and Bunge - are also very active players in
the RTRS.

[3] The new Parguayan bill on the control of phytosanitary products for
agricultural use would weaken clauses in existing legislation including
the requirement to have a vegetation buffer between the sprayed crop
area and neighbouring areas (which could be rivers, homes, or even
schools) and the requirement to announce sprayings in advance in
surrounding communities so that people can take action to protect
themselves and keep their children at home.

[4] IAASTD - International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science
and Technology for Development, under the auspices of the United Nations
and the World Bank. The IAASTD is a scientific assessment, very similar
to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which calls for
more support for agro-ecological farming and traditional knowledge. 400
scientists and a wide array of difference stakeholders contributed to
the 5 year assessment. Its conclusions have been signed up to by 58

Key soy facts

Soy production in South America has more than doubled in the last 15
years. About 16% of the Amazon forests and 60% of the Cerrado grasslands
have been lost already. After falling deforestation rates in 2007, the
2008 soy price boom fuelled an increase in deforestation, with more than
770,000 hectares of forest cleared between August 2007 and August 2008
alone. It is estimated that a further 9.6 million hectares of Cerrado
could be lost to soy expansion by 2020 and 40% of Amazon rainforest by

Soy production for the European Union (EU) uses 14 million hectares of
land, 87% of which is in Brazil and Argentina. Soy oil makes up an
estimated 17% of the biodiesel used in the EU and this is set to increase.

Deforestation and livestock farming both account for about 18% of global
greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

As a result of the expansion of soy the land area devoted to cultivating
food crops in Argentina has reduced dramatically. The area used for the
cultivation of rice has reduced by 44%, maize by 26%, wheat by 3% and
sunflower 34%.

Thousands of smallholder farmers and indigenous communities have been
displaced from their land to make way for soy plantations. In Paraguay
70 per cent of the land is owned by just 2 per cent of the country's

The majority of soy in Latin America is grown from Monsanto's
genetically modified (GM) seed which tolerates their Roundup Ready
herbicide, prompting growers to use even more intensive farming methods.
Government data confirms that reliance on this technology has lead to
the emergence of herbicide-tolerant weeds which in turn has resulted in
increased quantities of the pesticide Roundup (glyphosate), as well as
older and more damaging herbicides like 2,4-D (a component of the
defoliant Agent Orange which was used in the Vietnam War).

In Brazil, government authorities have documented a 76.9% increase in
the use of Roundup between 2000 when GM crops were first planted in the
country, and 2005. In Argentina, the use of GM soy has resulted in one
of the world's worst weeds, Johnsongrass, becoming resistant to Roundup.
It is estimated that an additional 25 million litre of pesticides will
be needed every year to deal with this problem, including the use of
different more toxic pesticides.

The pesticide Roundup has become a major source of pollution that
contaminates surface water and aquifers, threatens human health and
kills other vegetation. Serious health risks have been reported from
pesticides that build up in the food chain, and aerial spraying of
pesticides by large farms and agri-businesses. Communities living near
soy plantations report severe health problems including continuous
headaches, skin rashes, stomach problems, increased rates of miscarriage
and babies born with malformations.

author by Cianpublication date Fri May 29, 2009 16:00Report this post to the editors

From the article:
> "Nearly all soy is used as cheap animal feed"

Unfortunately, the simple fact that we would not need to feed these animals if they were not bred for food in the first place, seems to have been missed. The article calls for "less and better meat consumption" - but to make a really substantial reduction in the amount of soya being grown it makes a lot more sense to go vegan and to encourage others to do so. That said, vegans should when possible buy and support local, organic, non-GM produce and avoid unsustainably farmed soya themselves.

Ultimately, the only way to preserve biodiversity on a global scale and significantly slow or halt the damage we are doing to the ecology is to support class struggle initiatives that build solidarity and resistance to overthrow the unsustainable and exploitative economic and political systems that lie behind all of these problems. We can build a new economy that functions with an ecological understanding, that humans do not have the right to destroy ecosystems upon whose functioning, so many other sentient beings depend.

author by Roger Yatespublication date Sun May 31, 2009 10:13Report this post to the editors

This is another issue in which the rights of human and nonhuman animals are intertwined. As noted, the vast majority of soya is produced as "cattle feed" to service that second population explosion we have deliberately created.

As 30-40,000 humans die of starvation-related issues every day, we prefer to send protein through nonhuman bodies first before consuming it ourselves as hamburgers and other types of junk. As writer Carol Adams suggests, ~existing~ protein is feminised (in the form of dairy produce) and animalised (in the form of "meat"). The protein waste and water waste (thus the environmental impact) is staggering. All this while we give lip-service to the notion of human rights.

We are due for a radical rethink of our priorities in order to solve current global problems and veganism is emerging as a real positive on many fronts directly impacting human animal and nonhuman animal rights. We need to think of rights in this full sense from now on.

Related Link: http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/human-rights-and-an...ther/
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