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for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

RTRS Soybeans Lables Misleading – Supermarket honesty urged

Immediate release (8 Jun 2010)

Calls to Pete Riley at 07903 341 065.

The Roundtable of Responsible Soya (RTRS) attempt to greenwash highly damaging soya production as “responsible” has been condemned by an alliance of international environment, farming and consumer organisations, including GM Freeze.

The RTRS is due to meet in Brazil on 9 June to agree and launch a set of “responsible” criteria for soybeans leading to products being approved and labelled as such.

GM Freeze joined the growing list of over 230 groups in over 30 countries and territories, from Iran to Canada to Paraguay to Sierra Leone, in signing a letter rejecting the label as greenwash of the worst kind [1] and pointing out that the criteria for assessing “responsible” soy have now been widely discredited.

GM Freeze has already contacted the major food retailers in the UK asking them to reject the RTRS label. The group lists 13 reasons [2] why supermarkets should not back the initiative including:

  • Failure to protect forest and other habitats from clearance,
  • Failure to protect rural communities and public health,
  • The inclusion of unsustainable GM soy production as “responsible”,
  • Lack of credible traceability and enforcement or compliance with the criteria,
  • Lack of any credible alternative soy production system to replace the industrial monocultures dominating North and South American soy.

The majority of soybeans are either used as animal feed or in the production of agro-fuels – very little feeds people. The EU has become reliant on South American soy meal to feed livestock, and its biofuel targets encourage soy plantations to spread into forest and other biodiverse habitats.

The group is urging supermarkets to be honest about this and to put their resources into finding alternatives to unsustainable soy production.

Commenting Pete Riley said:

This Roundtable’s ‘responsible’ criteria are a cynical attempt by a very damaging industry to polish up its image. They are misleading and meaningless and they won’t work. The RTRS labelling is a blatant sham and has rightly been dismissed by scores of organisations from right around the world.

The RTRS doesn’t address the real problems of soy production, nor do they address important issues like long-term food security. We need solutions that reduce the harm caused by intensive farming, not more of the same. UK companies cannot pretend that exporting the damage our food chain causes to other countries can be called ‘responsible’.

Supermarkets would be taking a big risk if they buy into this label when what their customers want is real, honest information. Many people are already aware of the threat to biodiversity and people from soy production, and the fig-leaf offered by the RTRS will not convince them.



[1] Text of the full letter with signatures is available here.

[2] See Thirteen Reasons Why the Roundtable on Responsible Soy will not Provide Responsible or Sustainable Soya Bean Production here.