Clear conscience: users of responsible soy can claim ‘zero deforestation’

By Lynda Searby

- Last updated on GMT

© istock
© istock
By sourcing soy that conforms to a new responsible production standard, feed users and producers can demonstrate that their operations haven’t had caused any deforestation.

From now on, RTRS (Round Table on Responsible Soy Association) soy will be ‘zero deforestation’ certified. This follows the introduction of a new 3.0 production standard, creating “the world’s first zero deforestation multi-stakeholder certification standard."​ 

“Producers will, for the first time, be able to show - through assessment overseen by an accredited certification body - that their operations have not impacted on any native forests, wetlands or riverbanks,”​ Marcelo Visconti, RTRS executive director, told FeedNavigator.  

Asked precisely what was meant by the scheme’s claim to “guarantee zero deforestation”​, Visconti explained that it did not allow conversion of any natural land from June 2016. 

“Every soy producer working to achieve the certification shall demonstrate to a third party certification body that deforestation and conversion of any natural land did not happen. Moreover, they shall also have a plan to conserve native vegetation and wildlife existing on the farm, among other environmental requirements,”​ he said. 

Responsible soy becoming the norm in Europe

The feed industry is under growing pressure from customers and NGOs to demonstrate transparent, sustainable sourcing policies. Visconti believes that soon, such certification will be a ‘must-have’ for soy producers and users in the European market. 

“The European market is becoming stricter and, in the near future, certifications will be more than a competitive advantage. They will be an important enabler for market access,”​ he said. “The RTRS standard is an important instrument for producers to help them increase their profitability and expand their businesses in a sustainable way. It ensures that quality soy exports grow exponentially in an international market that is becoming increasingly judicious about the quality of its traded products.”​ 

Supply exceeding demand

Visconti did not see availability as a limiting factor for users wanting to source 3.0 RTRS certified soy.

“The availability of responsibly produced soy will depend on many factors, but principally on the demand for responsible soy galvanizing producers to certify. At the moment, the available certified production is more than the demanded - there is RTRS certified production waiting to be bought,”​ he said.

He added that the number of RTRS certifications is growing each year; in 2016, RTRS certified production increased by 29% versus 2015; more than 32,500 producers from Argentina, Brazil, India, Paraguay and the US and more than three million tons of soy were certified RTRS. More than two million tons of RTRS material were sold, mainly in Europe (through a credits system).

How to get certified

There are two standards: a ‘production’ standard for producers of soy and a ‘chain of custody’ standard for users of soy. To achieve either standard, producers / users of soy are required to carry out an assessment through an accredited certification body. The auditor will want to see compliance with a number of ‘indicators’.

The 3.0 standard is a revision of the RTRS’ 2.0 standard, and, as such, incorporates several improvements. For example, High Conservation Value (HCV) assessments are no longer required, making the standard more economically accessible to producers, and this version introduces exceptions that make it easier for smallholders to achieve it.

Version 3.0 also sets requirements for labor and human rights, so certified producers must be able to demonstrate that they are meeting criteria for fair labor conditions and relations with neighboring and indigenous communities, for example.

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1 comment

ProTerra supports RTRS in preventing deforestation

Posted by Graham Mitchell,

Dear Feed Navigator, ProTerra Foundation supports the work of the RTRS and others on assuring deforestation free soy. The ProTerra Foundation and our members have been supporting this position for our producers and members since the Basel Criterea in 2004.
It's good to see European and North American soy users getting more serious about their sustainability commitments.

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