Certification milestone on the path to building a responsible international soy chain – The Dutch food and feed industry has bought the first batch of soy produced according to the principles of the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS). This first ever market uptake of 85,000 tons serves as an important example for businesses worldwide, who can now also begin to purchase responsibly produced soy.
These 85,000 tons of RTRS certified soy originate from the Brazilian producer Grupo André Maggi, whose first soy fields were certified by independent auditors in May 2011. This first ever certification of a producer, and the subsequent market uptake are important milestones for the RTRS, which began its quest to become the global standard for responsibly cultivated soy in 2006. Respecting the land rights of local communities and preventing the degradation of valuable nature areas are among its objectives. Brought together under the Initiative for Sustainable Soy (IDS), several Dutch food, retail and feed companies have purchased this first certified soy through a certificate trading platform that directly rewards soybean producers for their efforts in becoming RTRS certified. The IDS represents the following group of companies: Feed Industry Association Nevedi, Ahold, FrieslandCampina, Vion, Gebr. Van Beek Group and 2 Sisters Storteboom.
Today in Rotterdam, the organisations responsible for helping to achieve this breakthrough met to discuss the future of responsible soy cultivation. “The purchase of soy credits by IDS marks a very important step in the transition to a responsible international soy value chain”, said Agustin Mascotena, executive director of the RTRS.
Last year, over 200 million tons of soybeans were produced worldwide, making soy one of the world’s main agricultural products. As a result of growing global prosperity and the subsequent demand for meat, the production of soy – an important source of protein for animal feed – continues to increase. However, large-scale cultivation of soy can have negative consequences, such as environmental damage and the violation of land rights of local populations.
This is especially true in South America, where – as Richard Holland, Chief Conservation Officer for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WNF) explains – “areas such as the Amazon and the Cerrado, the Brazilian savannah, are rapidly converted into agricultural land. This leads to the extinction of plant and animal species, degradation of water resources and greenhouse gas emissions. All of this highlights the urgent need to cultivate soy in a responsible way”.
Key stakeholders in the soy chain, including producers, buyers, NGOs and investors, have therefore developed a standard for responsible soy production practices. This Standard not only focuses on reducing the use of pesticides and respecting the land rights of local communities, but also addresses the responsible expansion of soy cultivation. This means that the expansion does not harm valuable forests and biodiversity.
Nico Roozen, the Director of Solidaridad also underlined that “in South America, China and India, the RTRS can also play an important role in helping to preserve the role of small-scale soy farmers. Indeed, in cooperation with the RTRS and individual companies, Solidaridad has developed a programme to support small-scale soybean producers in developing smart and sustainable land use practices, and implementing the RTRS Standard’‘. According to Roozen, as long as there is a market demand, many farmers are more than willing to switch to responsible soy production.
As more producers will receive RTRS certification in the next few years, the supply of RTRS-certified soy will continue to grow steadily. It is already expected that the production capacity of RTRS-certified farmers will reach approximately 500.000 tons by the end of 2011.
The food and feed industry in The Netherlands would like to be the international frontrunner in the use of responsible, RTRS-certified soy. “Now that the first RTRS certified soy is on the market following years of preparation, it’s the industry’s responsibility to buy certified soy and to make RTRS the global standard for responsible soy cultivation. As the European gateway for soy, The Netherlands can play a major role in making this happen. Today, we have made the first step,” said Jan Nicolai, Program Director of the Sustainable Trade Initiative.
High resolution images of soy cultivation in South-America are available for download. The pictures are available for use in the context of this press release.
For more information about this event and the press release, please contact:
Daan de Wit, Communications manager Dutch Initiative Sustainable Trade (IDH),
Frans Claassen, director Product board Margarine, Fats and Oils (MVO),
Bram Verkerke, Communication and market development sustainable economy, Solidaridad,
firstname.lastname@example.org, +31-6296 01233
Henk Flipsen, voorzitter Initiatief Duurzame Soja (IDS),
A series of answers to frequently asked questions about the RTRS and the first market uptake can be
General information on the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) can be found on the RTRS
The Round Table on Responsible Soy
Established in 2006 in Switzerland, the RTRS is a multi-stakeholder initiative which aims to facilitate a global dialogue on soy production that is economically viable, socially equitable and environmentally sound. The RTRS’ more than 150 members include soybean growers, crushers, traders, food and
feed manufacturers and civil society organisations. They work together to market certified soybeans that have been responsibly produced, and to maximise the amount of soybeans that can be RTRS certified. The Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) has developed a set of principles and criteria which define the responsible production of soy. They ensure that the fundamental rights of previous land owners, local communities, workers, small farmers and their families are respected and fully taken into account, and that no new land of native habitat or high conservation value areas (forests) have been cleared for soy cultivation since May 2009. The RTRS principles and criteria also state that soybean farmers must adopt best management practices in order to minimise their environmental footprint.