Soy Industry Adopts Environmental Standards

The palm oil industry has been the center of environmentalists’ focus because of widespread deforestation going on (especially in Indonesia) blamed on some palm plantation owners.

Unilever have already promised to sustainably source their palm products feedstock while European fuel producer Neste Oil announced yesterday that they too will use solely certified sustainably-sourced palm oil for their biodiesel production by the end of 2015.

In the US and South America, however, soybeans are the main feedstock used for biodiesel production. South America is also the target of environmetalists’ ire as soybean farming (Argentina and Brazil are the world’s largest producers aside from the US), threaten to destroy some of the region’s forests and savannahs.

Like the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) association, where Unilever and Neste are participants, a Round Table on Responsible Soy Association (RTRS) was formed (in 2006) to guide the soy industry into being a responsible producer and consumer of soybeans and products.

Last week, RTRS agreed to implement a pilot program of voluntary production standards aimed at reducing the negative impacts of soy production on the environment and people, particularly in South America.

The World Wildlife Fund, which is a member of both RSPO and RTRS, said the new standards will include prohibitions on the conversion of areas with high conservation value – such as forests and savannahs – reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and eliminating the most hazardous pesticides in soy farming.

WWF said the RTRS now needs to develop a certification system to verify compliance with the standards and establish methods to trace the soy.

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