Today (8 May 2013) major European retailers from five countries, including Germany’s REWE Group, EDEKA and LIDL have released the Brussels Soy Declaration in which they have pledged support for the non-GMO soy production system of Brazil.
In response to this declaration, Augusto Freire, President of The ProTerra Foundation, says, “in light of this declaration the UK retailers are in danger of being viewed as ‘backward-thinking’ on the issue.” The ProTerra Foundation administers the ProTerra Certification Programme, a leading certification scheme for non-GMO, sustainably farmed soy.
Freire went on to say, “Recently, four British retailers announced that they would no longer require eggs and poultry to be produced using non-GMO feed, giving the reason that there is poor availability of non-GM soy, particularly from the main supply source, Brazil. The avalanche of press coverage following this announcement demonstrated that UK retailers had been ‘misled’ about the availability of non-GMO soy and were more likely using this as an excuse to cut costs and avoid more strict sourcing and traceability efforts with regards to their supply chain.”
As the Brussels Soy Declaration emphasises, European retailers see animal feed as the main route by which genetically modified soy gets into the food chain. They are ramping up support for Brazil, as by far the most important producer of GMO-free soybeans in the world. And for the first time in history, European major retailers are joining up, even across borders, to send a clear message of what their non-GMO needs really are.
“Large retailers in Germany, France, Austria, Luxembourg, and other mainland European countries, quite opposite to the UK, are increasing their use of non-GMO soy in livestock production because they believe that consumers like choice as to whether they purchase genetically modified products.
“The UK retailers’ claim that they cannot obtain sufficient non-GMO soy meal for animal feed, is simply not defensible in terms of a sensible consumer oriented corporate policy,” said Mr. Freire. “In addition to our own assurances that there are supplies of non-GMO soy available from Brazil, both ABRANGE, the Brazilian association of non-GMO grain producers and processors, and APROSOJA, the Brazilian soy industry association, have provided clear evidence that non-GMO soy volumes are not only secure, but are growing year on year in response to growing demand, despite any occasional fluctuations due to climate, port logistics congestion, or variations in seed availability, which are hardly justification for dropping the use of non-GMO feedstuffs. Volumes of ProTerra-certified non-GMO soy imported into Europe have exceeded 4 million metric tons per year for each of the last 6 years and are expected to continue to increase this year. Even a larger volume of non-GMO soy is expected in 2014 because a robust seed certification program is being deployed by ABRANGE, which will also favour seed companies in terms of being rewarded for their efforts in continuing to preserve the best conventional soybean varieties. Besides, many growers are reverting to conventional production due to the fact that non-GMO soy has better yield and better resistance to adverse weather. APROSOJA has expressed readiness to deliver an additional 10 million metric tons of non-GMO soy to Chinese buyers even this year. If this is possible, increases for delivery to the UK and EU are also possible.”
The ProTerra Foundation will be hosting a conference ‘Advancing Sustainability Together – the Future for Food and Feed’ on 14 May in Rotterdam featuring speakers from across the European food and agricultural industry, as well as supplier countries including Brazil, India, and Canada, and from the Danube River Basin. Speakers include ABRANGE (Brazilian Association of Non-Genetically Modified Grain Producers), the Executive Director of RTRS; soy traders, including Cefetra, Triodos Bank and the Danube Soy Association as well as retail chains the REWE Group and Coop Switzerland.
(English version attached, and versions in Portuguese, German and French also available at http://proterrafoundation.org/index.php/en/downloads-2 ).