Immediate release 12 May 2009 Over sixty organizations from across the world have signed an open letter to the participants of the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS)  calling for it to be abandoned. They are taking this action because criteria to be launched by the Round Table in late May 2009 encourage soy monocultures, seek to include GM soy as sustainable and are too weak to protect vital ecosystems such as Amazon, Cerrado, and Chaco. The open letter is very critical of the RTRS  proposals for allowing: * GM soy to be included and continue unchecked * Expansion of soy monocultures * Continuing damage to major forest and other ecosystems * Major social, health and human rights issues to go unchallenged Signatories of the letter include Friends of the Earth International, Global Forest Coalition, the Scottish Green Party, Soya Alliance, the Soil Association, and Via Campesina European Coordination, as well as GM Freeze and GMWatch. RTRS corporate members include Marks and Spencer, Unilever, Somerfield (now owned by the Co-op), Danisco, Carrefour (a French supermarket chain), Ahold (a Dutch supermarket chain), BP International and Shell International. Major companies driving soy expansion and GM crops are also members, including Cargill, Bunge, Monsanto and Syngenta. The open letter pays particular attention to how the RTRS ignores more sustainable solutions such as land reform in South America, development of local markets and finding alternatives to soybeans in animal feed production. The increasing use of soy in producing agrofuels simply intensifies the problem. Commenting, Claire Robinson of GMWatch, one of the open letter signatories, said “We regard the RTRS as a massive public relations exercise for the soy industry, which has been one of the major driving forces behind the destruction of natural habitats in South America, native people losing their land and for thousands of mixed family farms being lost. GM soy has made matters much worse for the environment and local people, as the herbicides used on the crops fail as weed resistance emerges, and the only solution seems to be more chemicals, often applied from the air.” Contact: Helena Paul, Eco-Nexus +44 (0)207 431 4357 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Nina Holland, Corporate Europe Observatory, 00 32 497 389 632 or 00 31 6 302 85 042 Email: email@example.com ENDS Notes 1. Full text of the open letter to the RTRS with signatories is at: http://www.gmwatch.eu/archives/64-Letter-of-critical-opposition-to-the-R... – and at: http://www.bangmfood.org/take-action/23-take-action/36-letter-of-critica... 2. RTRS is multi-stakeholder dialogue that intended to promote the use of a responsible standard of soy production, processing and trade”. It was proposed by WWF and Coop Switzerland in 2005 after their previous attempts known as the Basel criteria failed to gain support. For more information on the RTRS see briefing enclosed as attachment.