Holland and (Ir)responsible Soy
CIP Americas Policy Program
|The RTRS is an agribusiness initiative to legitimize and expand|
soy monoculture in South America. Photo: www.redes.org.uy.
The Rural Reflection Group of Argentina (Grupo de Reflexión Rural de Argentina), Soy Kills (La Soja Mata), Toxic Soy, and Rainforest Rescue are starting a campaign directed toward the Dutch government urging it to leave the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS). The round table is an agribusiness initiative to legitimize and expand soy monoculture in South America. Some of its supposed criteria are sustainability and social responsibility.
The civil society, NGOs, and communities affected by soy monoculture have rejected the RTRS every one of the four times that it has met. In April of 2009, 90 organizations and activist networks signed a letter repudiating the round table. The letter declares that soy monocultures will never be sustainable or responsible.
According to the letter, the environmental impacts of soy monocultures include "Environmental degradation, including: loss of forests and savannahs due to direct destruction by soy monocultures or displacement of existing agriculture (particularly cattle ranching and small holder agriculture); related losses of biodiversity; release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere through land-use changes, fertilizer use including NOx emissions; soil erosion and disruption of surface and ground water and rainfall patterns …"
The letter goes on to say, "RTRS principles and criteria are too weak to protect the integrity and biodiversity of the Amazon, Cerrado, Chaco, and other regions from immediate, severe, and irreversible degradation. The Amazon, Cerrado, Chaco, and other regions are under immediate threat from a constellation of damaging agricultural practices and social impacts, as described above, for which soy cultivation is a core enabling factor. The RTRS principles and criteria cannot and will not effectively address these issues."
The campaign has intensified this month when in the space of a week the deaths of six indigenous Mbya Guaraní were reported in Paraguay due to intoxication from agro-toxins used in soy production. In addition, a campesino was killed in a confrontation with a soy plantation owner.
"In Argentina, the population that is directly affected by fumigations has begun the Campaign to Stop Fumigation (Campaña Paren de Fumigar) in order to denounce the soy industry," relates an open letter from the campaign against the RTRS sent to the Dutch government. "The health of the people in these countries is seriously affected. The solution will not be found in years of round table discussions held at a physical and moral distance from the reality … The RTRS is not a legitimate initiative as shown by the very few NGOs and not one South American campesino movement or indigenous community that have offered their support for it."
Salva la Selva, "Gobierno holandés financia soja (ir)responsable", 5 de octubre 2009, http://www.biodiversidadla.org/content/view/full/52191.
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