Wednesday, May 20, 2009

WWF panda dances for Monsanto - movie from Toxic-soy action at WWF

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Toxic-soy action at WWF in the Netherlands

Tuesday 19 May, 2009 - Today, the head office of WWF-Netherlands received some extraordinary visitors, including a weeping panda, a Monsanto circus director, and various people in white overalls spraying "Roundup". The action is a protest on the occasion of the upcoming vote of the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS), on 28 May in Campinas (Brazil). This forum will allow GM RoundupReady soy to be certified as 'responsible', while in reality, this soy is responsible for massive use of pesticides as well as deforestation and driving small farmers from their lands.

During the action, the Monsanto circus director tried to convince the Panda to sign the RTRS Declaration that ends with the words "Hereby I declare GM RoundupReady soy RESPONSIBLE". The Panda, however, did clearly not agree, and refused to sign. Meanwhile, pesticide sprayers went around the building to spray the plants with a healthy doses of 'Roundup'. Drummers and people spreading flyers made sure all employees were informed of the reason of the action.

The visitors publicly discussed the issue with Director of WWF-Netherlands, Johan van de Gronden. He maintained that WWF could exert more influence inside the RTRS than if it were to abandon the process. In response, the activists said that WWF is in a very isolated position, as there is hardly any support from civil society in producer countries for the RTRS. Mr Van de Gronden did not want to explain how WWF would defend its choice to support a label for Roundup-Ready soy to the public and WWF supporters. He said that should be left up to them. Neither did he want to respond to the question what would be an acceptable outcome for WWF of the Campinas conference.

WWF and Solidaridad, a Dutch development and fair trade organisation, are the main drivers of the RTRS process from the NGO side. Industry participants however dominate the forum. No small farmer movements or indigenous peoples' organisations take part. Every RTRS conference so far has sparked protest and counter-declarations. FUNDAPAZ, an Argentinian NGO, has announced to leave the RTRS after the conference in Campinas.

The criteria have been widely criticised:
- They don't stop deforestation, but rather legitimise soy expansion
- GM Roundup-Ready soy will be given a 'green' label
- Social and environmental criteria are often vague and very weak

Yet, despite this WWF keeps supporting the RTRS. Even though officially opposed to GMOs, the organisation is about to introduce a 'responsible' label for herbicide-resistant soy.

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