The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) recently released the 2014 WWF Soy Report Card, and the news isn’t good for soy again. The report zooms in on 88 of Europe’s top retailers in the food service industry, consumer goods industry, animal products industry and animal feed companies, and looks at how well they incorporate sustainable practices in their operations. While a few companies have taken a sustainable soy stance, the majority are not even close.
What‘s So Wrong With Soy?
This time, soy’s low score doesn’t have anything to do with health. While there are a ton of soy products on the shelves, soy is mainly grown as feed to fatten farm animals. The overwhelming demand for animal products means that a lot of soy is needed to keep up.
The environmental, animal and human costs are also overwhelming. Vasts parts of the Amazon, Cerrado and Chaco have been destroyed in order to produce soy. Pesticides and toxic chemicals have also been introduced to these rainforests, which are literally the “Lungs of our Planet,” and that we in turn inhale. Animals’ habitats have been degraded or lost. Indigenous peoples, namely in South America, have been forced out of their traditional lands. Besides the gross human rights violations, many areas are now hot spots of violent land disputes where many innocent environmental activists have been killed.
What Does Responsible Soy Look Like?
The WWF report would like to see companies using 100 percent responsibly sourced soy by 2015. In a perfect world, the soy wouldn’t come from areas where the forests, savannah or grasslands have recently been cleared. The soy should also come from producers equally committed to sustainability and best practices.
WWF Soy Report Card Highlights
Here are a few of the highlights and lowlights from the report:
- Only 14 individual brands of the 88 committed to using only responsibly sourced soy by 2015. Another 13 companies agreed to a partial commitment.
- Only 31 percent of surveyed companies agreed to fully or partially commit to only using responsibly sourced soy. In other words, only 31 percent were open to entertaining just the idea of responsible soy. On a positive note, a few companies have taken actionable steps to towards the responsible soy commitment.
- Some of the commitments stem from national initiatives, while others were developed internally. The Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland are excellent examples of the positive difference that a national initiative can make.
- There are other commitments. Some brands are considering a “deforestation-free” supply chain, and others have signed the Soy Moratorium to help the Brazilian Amazon.
- 42 percent of companies have already bought responsibly sourced soy, but only six companies are up to 50 percent or more responsible soy.
- 27 percent that responded to WWF’s inquiries made zero commitment to using responsibly sourced soy.
- 32 companies didn’t bother to communicate their stance on responsible soy sources to WWF.
How You Can Help
Consumers don’t have to wait for countries or companies to solve the issue of responsible soy. Here are a few ways that you as a consumer can make a huge impact:
- Demand that your favorite brands commit to responsible soy.
- Vote with your dollar by purchasing companies that are on their way to responsible soy. Look for RTRS soy, RTRS-certified non-GMO soy or ProTerra certified soy.
- Consume less animal products. Three-quarters of soy is produced for livestock animal feed. If you’ve flirted with going vegan or vegetarian, then give it a shot.
- Reduce your food waste inside and outside of the home.
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