Big soybean farmers from Brazil, neighbors and India, meeting in Paraguay agreed to create an institution charged with minimizing the environmental and social costs associated with large-scale production of the crop.
The second Global Roundtable on Responsible Soybean development has now 18 months to decide on "criteria and indicators" that will govern development of soybean farming and minimize the crop’s negative environmental and social impacts, including the possibility of an "environmental friendly" soybean certification.
The two days meeting in Asuncion, Paraguay’s capital, took place with the backstage of international soaring energy prices, the alleged depletion of existing hydrocarbons resources and global enthusiasm on the launching of the biofuels option.
The forum brought together farmers from several producer countries in South America – Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay – and from India, as well as members of environmental groups such as Worldwide Fund for Nature.
Alberto Yanosky, director of the environmental group Guyra Paraguay and coordinator of the event is quoted saying that during the talks participants analyzed the negative aspects of the expansion of soy farming into rainforest areas, the misuse of pesticides, the migration of indigenous communities to urban areas due to large-scale production and the new world scenario of biofuels.
"We know that in some places the (crop’s) advance has been at the expense of the forests," said the expert, who supports the idea of certifying products made from soybeans that are grown in areas where environmental norms are respected.
"These are clear initiatives to halt the expansion of the agricultural frontier. We think the current area is sufficient to achieve the estimated production levels for the next five or ten years," added Yanosky.
Behind closed doors the infringement on the Amazon region and possible limits to Mercosur soybean cropland or reduction of extensive livestock farming were discussed as well as agrochemicals, soil depletion, the deterioration of working conditions and promoting more organic production.
The world’s leader in soybean production is the United States with 85 million tons per year, followed by Brazil, 56 million tons; Argentina, 40 million; China, 16 million; India, 6 million and Paraguay, 3.7 million tons. However no representatives from the United States or China were present at the gathering.