New research reveals food prices,
environment and people left unprotected
Buenos Aires (Argentina) / Brussels (Belgium),
April 22, 2008 - Attempts to use certification schemes to reduce the widespread
environmental and social problems caused by growing crops for fuels and animal
feeds are bound to fail, states a new report released today by Friends of the
Earth groups. 
The report is released on the eve of a
controversial April 23-24 meeting in Buenos Aires set to discuss the
certification of growing soy, a crop expanding rapidly to meet the increasing
demand for fuel and the world's most-used animal feed.
The report from Friends of the Earth groups
comes amid global worries about the increasingly tragic impacts of rising food
prices. Biofuels - plants grown to make fuel not food - have been blamed as one
factor driving this trend.
Where they are grown in intensive agricultural
systems, such as environmentally-damaging large-scale monoculture plantations,
biofuels are called agrofuels. Their spread is creating even more pressure on
land and further exacerbates existing problems. 
expansion of massive monocultures leads to the destruction of our forests,
savannahs and wildlife, raises land and food prices and directly impacts on
rural communities who are forced off their land to make way for the
plantations. Unfortunately certifying large monocultures as sustainable would
mislead international consumers and not improve production methods. Increasing
production for export, and increasing consumption in the North, are destructive
trends that must be reversed," said Lucia Ortiz of Friends of the Earth Brazil.
feed cars and factory farms with cheap crops from the South, food prices
rocket, forests are destroyed and people suffer. Certifying these crops as
green, even if well intentioned, is a smokescreen that will fool the public and
let the problems continue. The really green answer is to reduce the demand for
these crops in the first place," said Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth Europe.
The report investigates all the major
certification schemes being introduced to minimise the environmental and social
problems from growing soy and sugar cane in Latin America and concludes that:
* the rapid expansion of soy and sugar cane
plantations pushes out other farming elsewhere causing deforestation, loss of
wildlife and huge social problems, including violent conflicts and forced land
evictions. All certification schemes fail to solve this major problem.
* knock-on effects such as rising food prices
fall outside of all proposed certification schemes.
* it is highly unlikely that any of the
certification schemes will be fully implemented and effectively monitored,
thereby introducing considerable risk that schemes will be open to fraud and
consumers will be deceived.
* many certification schemes are heavily
dominated by large international companies that make their business from
selling more and more commodity crops and have little interest in reducing the
demand. This has led to widespread rejection from civil society groups in Latin America.
* genetically modified crops are accepted in
some schemes as 'responsible' or as a mark of sustainability even where their
use has led to a massive increase in chemical herbicides, environmental
degradation and health problems for rural communities.
Friends of the Earth International also
released a separate statement coinciding with the Buenos Aires meeting of the
so-called Roundtable on Responsible Soy due to take place on April 23-24 in Buenos Aires. The Roundtable was widely criticised in the statement. 
companies involved in the Roundtable on Responsible Soy are in a unique
position: they control both demand and supply of cheap soy for feed and fuel.
But the only solution to the massive problems caused by industrial soy
production is to decrease soy production and consumption, which is exactly the
opposite of what the companies involved aim at," said Roque Pedace from
Friends of the Earth Argentina.
Recent studies including a Friends of the
Earth report show that there are also grave environmental and social problems
with palm oil, which is widely used in food, feed and agrofuels. The bulk of
its production originates in unsustainable oil palm plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia.