WWF's GM soy debate has just officially wound up, but that's no reason to let WWF [formerly known as the World Wide Fund for Nature] off the hook.
Consider what happened to an attempted protest at the 3rd Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS), which WWF is a party to. It was caught on camera and the resulting video (in 2 parts) is worth watching in full for a sense of how utterly non-transparent and non-inclusive of the very people most directly affected by GM soy, the RTRS is:
The RTRS has 32 members from industry, banks and supermarkets, including the major crushers ADM, Bunge and Cargill, and 9 large-scale producers. Also part of the RTRS, as we've said, is WWF.
The RTRS protest took place because GM soy monocultures are having a devastating impact on the environment, on small farmers and on indigenous people in Latin America. At the same time there is strong consumer opposition to GM soy, particularly in Europe.
All of this is a PR nightmare for the big players who want to hide their culpability for the real impact of GM soy, and to obscure the whole GM issue by turning up the volume on issues around climate change and so-called sustainability. They hope that people will lose sight of the GM issue behind the green smokescreen of "sustainable [GM] soy".
But there can be no sustainability with GM crops. GM soy expansion is a threat to biodiversity in Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia. GM soy is much more environmentally damaging than other crops because of its unsustainable production requirements.
As the Argentinian agronomist Walter Pengue and the Berkeley agro-ecologist Miguel Altieri have noted: "The production of herbicide-resistant soybean leads to environmental problems such as deforestation, soil degradation, pesticide and genetic contamination. Socio-economic consequences include severe concentration of land and income, the expulsion of rural populations to the Amazonian frontier and to urban areas, compounding the concentration of the poor in cities. Soybean expansion also diverts government funds otherwise usable in education, health, and alternative, far more sustainable agroecological methods." (GM Soybean: Latin America's New Coloniser http://www.grain.org/seedling/?id=421).
These problems are intrinsic to GM soy production, as a just published article on "Twelve years of GM soya in Argentina - a disaster for people and the environment" also makes clear:
As some of you have pointed out, WWF could just as well start discussing sustainable nuclear power plants, deforestation, human trafficking or child labour, BECAUSE THEY HAVE BECOME A MAJOR MARKET REALITY (one of the arguments given for holding the GM soy debate).
If WWF - the biggest and most instantly recognisable environmental group in the world - are seen to endorse "sustainable" GM soy, that will undermine both European opposition to GMOs and the growing concerns over the social and environmental devastation caused by GM soy.
Sadly, this is far from the first time WWF has opted to keep bad company. CounterPunch editor Jeffrey St. Clair accuses WWF of backing nearly every trade bill to come down the pike, from NAFTA to GATT and of sidling up to some very unsavoury government agencies advancing the same neo-liberal agenda across the Third World. Likewise, Brian Tokar has observed how (in 1997) WWF was associated with 19 corporations cited in the National Wildlife Federation's survey of the 500 worst industrial polluters. These companies included such recognized environmental offenders as Union Carbide, Exxon, Monsanto, Weyerhaeuser, Du Pont, and Waste Management. http://www.counterpunch.org/stclair02032007.html
For massive grain conglomerates like ADM, who have never done anything whatsoever for sustainability and do not have the best relationship with growers, it makes perfect sense to partner with WWF, and other willing NGOs, or to set up their own greenwashing groups with pseudo-NGOs:
In their response to your letters of protest re the GM Soy Debate, WWF talk about the "successful completion of the RTRS process." The fact is that unless it gets strengthened to (1) totally reject GM soy and (2) have real teeth in its protection of the rainforest, the land, indigenous people and small farmers, it will be a success only for the ADMs and Monsantos of this world.
If you've already been in contact with WWF, please tell them once again that WWF (including its national organisations) needs to take a far stronger line on GM soy, and that it is an accomplice to greenwashing through the RTRS.
If they haven't written to you, you can let them known your concerns at their continued involvement in greenwashing here: http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/who_we_are/offices/index.cfm or here: http://www.panda.org/faq/visitor_emailadmin.cfmlink
See related GWWatch article of 15 December 2008 "WWF still accomplish to greenwashing": http://www.gmfreeireland.org/news/2008/dec/index.php#WWF