La soja mata
About La Soja Mata - Soy Kills
La Soja Mata provides information about the direct impacts of large scale monocultures, specifically soy, on people's lives and the environment.
This site is made by Urska Merc (design), Antje Lorch (technical support), An Maeyens (ASEED Europe) and Nina Holland (Corporate Europe Observatory). With thanks to moviments.net and many others. This site also publishes articles and publications by others, which is always clearly indicated. This site operates on an anti-copyright basis, i.e. we encourage wide and non-commercial use of the information, but request that the source is mentioned.
Why La Soja Mata?
The public in 'consumer countries' have by now been extensively informed that the advance of soy plantations causes massive destruction of ecosystems, such as rainforests and savannahs, in countries like Argentina and Brazil. However, the scale and speed with which land is taken over by the production of these crops, driven by a growing demand, is making many more victims: local communities are driven out, farmers loose their crops because of intensive use of the herbicide Roundup on RoundupReady soy, and this also causes health problems on a scale that many do not realise. In addition, soils degrade and water levels go down, deforestation changes regional climate patterns. Soy plantations do not generate jobs, so there is a continuous flow of people migrating to the city slums or abroad. If people disappear, so does the market for many other small scale economic activities. Small scale agriculture harbours both agricultural and natural biodiversity - moncultures don't.
GM soy field
Resistance in producer countries is growing. La Soja Mata provides information in English, and hopefully other languages, about campaigns carried by farmers, landless people, rural and urban communities, against the take over of their surroundings by (RoundupReady) soy plantations.
Of course, other commodities generate similar problems. While sugar cane plantations generate more work, labour conditions are often outright appalling. In areas where oil palm plantations are planned, like Indonesia or Colombia, similar land conflicts and human rights abuses occur as in the context of soy. Pine or eucalypt tree plantations are equally notorious examples, sucking up water supplies in addition to all the problems mentioned before.
The second area of emphasis is the controversy around NGO-agribusiness initiatives working to make commodity producion more 'sustainable' or responsible'. Because: to what extend can certification address the expansion of monocultures? How do you reconcile the conflicting interests between agribusiness and big land owners on the one hand, and local communities of indigenous peoples, farmers and landless people on the other? Who, in the end, decides what is sustainable?
The most criticised in this respect is the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS), started by World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The RTRS is formed by some NGOs, industry, governments and soy producers, to establish criteria to make soy production more 'responsible'. This initiative has caused strong opposition from civil society movements in all major production countries of soy: Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil.
This debate will become ever more important, now that the EU is preparing 'sustainability criteria' for biofuels, now preferably called agrofuels. Agrofuels is a new market for commodities like soy, sugar cane and palmoil, driven by support measures and policies of Northern and Southern governments.
So far without any meaningful input from civil society organisations in the South, some EU member states have embarked upon projects to develop such criteria, as it is acknowledged that the large scale production of agrofuels will create huge problems. At the same time however, it is recognised that no set of criteria can address problems playing at macro-level, including indirect drive of deforestation (the demand for 'sustainable' agrofuels pushes other production to elsewhere), rising food prices and competition of land uses. It is even claimed by the EU that agrofuels will bring rural development and will 'put money in the pockets of the poor'. The European Commission itself, about to come out with new agrofuel policy, is not intending to introduce 'sustainability' guarantees for agrofuels; including social criteria, for example, would be incompatible with WTO rules.
In the South, farmers organisations, social movements and NGOs have been very clear in their rejection of the Round Table on Responsible Soy, because they see the 'agro-export model of soy' as direct in conflict with their own demands for land reform, agrobiodiversity, rights to reuse seeds, and food sovereignty. There is a war between the two models, often literally involving violence.
La Soja Mata aims to support campaigns against this soy model, like the one of Silvino Talavera and the Movimiento Agrario y Popular (MAP) in Paraguay, by making information about them available and accessible.