Keep up pressure on WWF -- update
2.WWF still accomplice to greenwashing
1.Keep the pressure on WWF
GMWatch, 25 January 2009
WWF's GM soya debate officially winds up today, but that's no reason to let WWF off the hook.
Consider what happened to an attempted protest around the 3rd Round Table on Responsible Soy last May. 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 people most directly affected by GM soy, the Round Table on Responsible Soy (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 is WWF - the biggest and most instantly recognisable environmental group in the world.
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)
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 powerplants, deforestation, human trafficking or childlabour, BECAUSE THEY HAVE BECOME A MAJOR MARKET REALITY (one of the arguments given for holding the GM soy debate)?
If WWF 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 were 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.
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 (see below), 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.cfm
2.WWF still accomplice to greenwashing
GMWatch, 15 December 2008
First, a big thank you to all of you who sent WWF letters criticizing their participation in a GM Soy Debate about sustainability criteria for GM soy.
Your intervention has been VERY effective with WWF issuing a statement in which they apologise for appearing to endorse GM soy.
So well done! This is a step forward BUT the response on their website is otherwise very weak.
The statement is filled with justification of an existing WWF project, the RTRS - the Round Table on Responsible Soy, but this project is also deeply flawed and dangerous - see below.
WWF also needs to go further than the precautionary approach on GM that it asserts in its statement. Promoters of GMOs in Europe could and do say exactly the same about supporting case by case assessments and a strong regulatory framework. A leading environmental organization should be asking for far more than this which will only lead to the release of GMOs in the open environment.
WWF needs to take account of the growing evidence of health effects and environmental damage, and the lack of long term testing on both.* WWF needs to work for "presumed rejection" of GMOs, rather than "case by case assessment".
With regard to the RTRS, WWF's logic is that the Round Table on Responsible Soy is about assuring the sustainable production of soy whether it is GM or non-GM. This is total sophistry. GM soy is overwhelmingly what is being grown in those South American countries where soy is proving destructive both socially and environmentally. GM soy is fundamentally NOT sustainable.
The history is that the WWF started the RTRS with what were doubtless good intentions but in order to get the big guns - ADM, Bunge, Cargill, etc. - to participate, they had to greatly weaken the exercise. That included dodging the whole issue of GMOs, and also weakening the requirements around deforestation. As it stands now, the RTRS "criteria" totally ignore the critical issue of GMOs - and they allow deforestation of the Amazon as long as it is in an area that is "zoned" for agricultural use.
What that means is that big farmers will continue to bribe local government to "zone" areas of the Amazon as open for clearing for agriculture. And so clearing of the rainforest will simply continue, but now painted green with a big "RTRS Approved" seal.
In their response to your letters 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) reject GM soy completely and (2) have real teeth in its protection of the rainforest, it will be a success only for the big soy processors, the big exploitative farmers, and Monsanto!
Spraying glyphosate from the air should also be a basic reason to say no to "sustainable" soy! The impact on biodiversity and people is obvious. The problem of resistant weeds and volunteers requiring stronger chemicals is also a major problem. And people should have the right to GM-free zones and not to be contaminated. WWF should be asserting that right not legitimating contamination.
Don't forget that WWF has never succeeded in engaging the local communities most directly affected by the soy invasion in the RTRS.
If you've already been in contact with WWF, please reply by telling it that it 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
For more on the problems of RTRS, see:
*THE ROUND TABLE ON IR-RESPONSIBLE SOY
Certifying Soy Expansion, GM Soy and Agrofuels
This report shows how the Round Table is legitimising the existing environmentally and socially destructive practices of soy monocultures which have drawn widespread concern from around the world.