CIP Americas Policy Program, http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/2442
The Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS), an agro-industry initiative to legitimize soy monocultures in South America, is on shaky ground now that one of its key members has withdrawn and the Dutch government is reconsidering its support. The Round Table is a working group that brings together businesses and civil society groups in order to formulate criteria for environmentally sustainable and socially responsible soy production in order to achieve its acceptance in European markets. Its members include Syngenta and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
But numerous sectors of civil society and NGOs have condemned this initiative since its inception. In April 2009, 90 organizations and activist networks signed a protest letter against the RTRS in which they declared emphatically that soy monocultures can never be sustainable or responsible.
ABIOVE, the Brazilian Vegetable Oil Industry Association, withdrew from the Round Table at the beginning of April. A short time later it announced the creation of its own certification scheme, called Soja Plus, which is supposedly even more favorable to industry.
Last year APROSOJA, the association of large soy producers of Brazil, withdrew due to disagreement with the Round Table’s deforestation clause. As a result, the Round Table has practically no representation in Brazil, the main soy exporting-country in the world.
The Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) reports that the Round Table received another very hard blow in April when the Dutch government decided not to invest 68 million Euros in a “sustainable business” proposal that included the RTRS.
In the meantime, one of the members of the Round Table, the Argentinean agrofuel company Patagonia Bioenergy, hired the public relations firm Burson Marsteller to exert influence on the European Union so that its sustainability criteria will be more favorable to agrofuels. Burson Marsteller represented the military dictatorship that governed Argentina during the 1970s and 1980s.
Corporate Europe Observatory. “Round Table on Responsible Soy Suffers Setbacks” April 8, 2010. http://www.corporateeurope.org/agribusiness/blog/nina/2010/04/08/setbacks-round-table-responsible-soy