Re: WWF still accomplice to greenwashing
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Peter Lundgren (December 15, 2008 at 22:11)
Thanks for the response clarifying the WWF position on GMOs but I think the WWF is going to have to expand on some of the comments in the letter.
"In some circumstances this footprint may be reduced by producing more from less while also enabling farmers to earn a decent living".
In the context of your letter, explaining the WWF position on GMOs and defending the WWF involvement with the soya industry through the RTRS, it looks as if WWF is endorsing the biotech industry line that GMOs are increasing yields and therefore enabling farmers to feed more people with limited resources whilst enjoying the financial benefits to farmers of planting GMO soya.
Claims that the currently available GM varieties offer increased yields over the conventional equivalents is of course a nonsense indeed a number of research papers from US universities and the USDA indicate that GM soya crops yield between 5% and 8% less than equivalent conventional varieties.
It should be noted that the next generation of GM soya with improved yields, Roundup Ready 2 Yield, gets its increased yield from conventional breeding technique of hybridisation - not genetic manipulation. It is also worth noting that the yield increase claimed by the seed developer, Monsanto, is stated as improvement against Roundup Ready varieties and not conventional varieties. If you accept that the Roundup Ready variety is already suffering a yield deficit of 5% to 8% in comparison with its conventional equivalent you will understand that Roundup ready 2 Yield varieties only bring the GM crop yield back to parity with its conventional equivalent. Of further concern is that the Ready 2 Yield variety is not being made available in a conventional form to benefit conventional and organic farmers.
There is much more in the letter that I find of concern not least that the WWF supporting the "case by case assessment" of GMOs. "Case by case" is no more than the biotech industry is already offering and the WWF, as a leading environmental organisation, should be promoting the much stronger position of "presumed rejection".
I fear that, possibly through involvement in the RTRS, the WWF has been assimilated into the biotech cause, lost its differentiation from the soya industry, and is in jeopardy of losing its authority as an environmental organisation.
----- Original Message -----
WWF still an accomplice to greenwashing
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 this response on their website is still 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 inevitably leads 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 dire 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.
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, through the RTRS, it is an accomplice to greenwashing.
If they haven't written to you, you can let them known your concerns via this e-mail form:
or through their various offices:
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.