WWF servant of Agribusiness and globalization

WWF servant of Agribusiness and globalization

By Javiera Rulli

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has become the environmental secretariat for global commodity production. The role of RTRS and WWF in the climate summit in Copenhagen and the WTO in Geneva is dire.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has become the environmental secretariat for global commodity production. Innumerable records of human rights violations perpetrated by agribusiness are ignored by WWF in order to preserve High Conservation Value Areas. The WWF has joined the top lobby groups of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to promote the privatization of the last forests and “green” certifications. The role of RTRS and WWF in the climate summit in Copenhagen and the WTO in Geneva is dire.

In May 2009 at the fourth RTRS conference [i] a new path was opened in the final talk of the event, proposing compensation mechanisms and carbon markets for the soy agribusiness. The talk was made by Jason Clay, director of the WWF Markets section and vice president of WWF-USA. Clay is an enthusiast of the neoliberal model and economic globalization, a fervent promoter of agrofuels. He presented the carbon market as the new opportunity for Agribusiness. Clay promotes, for the future climate protocol, the insertion of soy in two possible financial mechanisms; REDD Mechanisms [1], in which soybean farmers would be rewarded if they maintain any forest cover on their latifundia, or access to carbon credits for agricultural practices classified as “conservationist”.

In June 2009, in a press release from the Roundtable on Responsible Soy, Jason Clay stated that:

"The challenge now is to find mechanisms to reward producers who protect forests and soil, allowing them to sell carbon along with their soybeans. This would be a win-win situation; forests and soils are protected, producers have an additional source of income, retailers and companies can now buy Responsible Soy as a way to reduce their carbon footprint. Preliminary studies suggest that producers in forested areas can earn more net income from the sale of carbon than from soy This fundamentally changes soy and makes it a new type of commodity. "[Ii]

A recent report from the University of Utrecht reveals the operation of obtaining carbon credits for soybeans, which is interpreted by Clay himself as the way to save the RTRS. He maintains that at present, by following the RTRS criteria, there are no greater incentives or direct benefits for Agribusiness. Large producers are not willing to improve their practices, if they do not get a substantial financial reward in return. This is because soy is an invisible production model for consumers and with unlimited markets and profits for producers. In this sense, the Round Table would be on the verge of failure, since the corporations are not seriously participating in it. At present, the Sojero Agribusiness is not too interested in the RTRS, they have realized that there are no media campaigns that could affect the market. For this reason APROSOJA, one of the largest soybean producing groups in Brazil, left the RTRS at the fourth conference. [iii]

The concrete proposal of the WWF is that the RTRS support the development of mechanisms so that soybean farmers can access the international market for carbon credits according to the amount of area of ​​preserved forest. In that case, the soybeans could be sold together with carbon credits at an average of US $ 5-10 / ton [iv]. The WWF does not seem to mind that soybeans continue to expand. Their priority is to take over a remnant of forest classified as a High Conservation Value Area or to do environmental management of the remnants of forests left by soybean landowners.

Under a supposed environmentalist mantle, now the Agribusiness could benefit economically from the privatization of the last remaining forests, fostering evictions of indigenous and peasant populations. In the North, companies could continue to buy soybeans while reducing their pollution quotas. The success of the negotiations in Copenhagen for the WWF, according to Jason Clay, could once again demonstrate to the large producers the benefit of being in the RTRS and even convince APROSOJA to return to the Round Table. [V]

Simultaneously, under the term "Conservation Agriculture", agribusinesses are lobbying strongly at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) also in order to achieve carbon credits for monocultures. The sustainability criteria of the RTRS in this case, could be the basis for future Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) methodologies and / or the member organizations could even operate as national certifiers [vi].

The first CDM methodology project involving soybean production has already been approved. The project consists of inoculating soybeans with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, in order to reduce the use of fertilizers. The project was developed by Becker Underwood, which has already established an alliance with Monsanto on the production and commercialization of this type of bacteria.

Also, under the supposed conservationist management, credits are promoted for Direct Sowing [3], a fundamental part of the biotechnological package of transgenic soybeans. AAPRESID, Argentine Association of Direct Sowing Producers, anticipating the new policies, has launched a Certified Agriculture (CA) program for potential CDM certifiers.

For its part, Monsanto has already achieved that the climate law about to be voted in the US includes the carbon market for agriculture and direct seeding. In addition, last year its Foundation, the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) [4] together with the FAO organized in the USA, with technical support from the UNFCCC, a consultation on the Conservation Agriculture for Carbon Offsetting.

In the lobby of conservation agriculture, pro Direct Sowing, we meet again with WWF and Jason Clay on the platform on Climate Change, Agriculture and Trade of the ICTSD-IPC organizations. Since 2008, Mr. Clay, representing the WWF, has been a member of the International Council for Food Policies and Agricultural Trade, generally abbreviated IPC [5]. The IPC is a lobby group in the WTO. It is essentially controlled by Cargill, Monsanto, Bunge and ADM. ICTSD is the International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development, for its acronym in English ICTSD. [6]

The ICTSD-IPC platform published in October a series of recommendations for the two major summits this year; the Seventh Ministerial Conference of the WTO and the United Nations Conference on Climate Change. The report proposes in general terms, concluding the Doha Round, intensifying food production using new technologies, supporting conservation agriculture and carbon market mechanisms as the main measure of adaptation to climate change:

"Both conservation agriculture and new technologies can reduce dependence on fossil fuels and improve our ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere and literally bury it in the ground, while increasing agricultural yields" [vii]

Preventing new international agreements on climate change from contravening the free trade framework and the principles of the WTO is one of the main concerns of this report. According to them, both levels must be consistent. It also defines trade liberalization as an ecological measure that: “would improve the flow of products from regions that produce low-carbon food to areas where the emission would be higher” [viii].

The power of the IPC should not be underestimated. This organization has been denounced for being a promoter of the lawsuit before the WTO against the moratorium on transgenics in Europe. It was also involved in the weakening of the Biodiversity Convention so that it could be submitted to the WTO agreements [ix]. Surprisingly, we find out on your page that WWF is a funding member. Which makes it clear that the WWF is not opposed to free trade or GMOs [7]

The approval of GMOs by the WWF is increasingly evident. Since August of this year we see that the “Global Harvest Initiative” of the multinationals Monsanto, DuPont, and ADM has participated in the dialogue. This is a marketing campaign to support the development of biotechnology. WWF and Conservation International participate in the campaign. At the conference that launched the campaign, Clay spoke about "sustainability and the ability to feed the world." [x]

In September, WWF established an alliance with the Novozymes corporation called "Joining in the Biosolutions Initiative - Eliminating the First Trillion Tons of CO2" [8]. Novozymes, an industrial leader in biotechnology, specializes in enzymes and bacteria. The company strongly promotes the development of second generation biofuels. Previously, WWF Denmark published a study "Reduction of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) with industrial biotechnology" based on calculations by the Novozymes team. The report essentially promotes “white biotechnology” [9]; the bioeconomy [10] and the new industrial concept of biorefinery [11], which essentially involve the use of transgenics (cells and enzymes) for industry and energy production [xi]. A document leaked online also mentions WWF's collaboration with Novozymes at the climate summit. This is the agenda of Europabio, the largest biotechnology lobby group in Europe [xii]. Clay has also come out publicly in favor of second generation biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol [xiii].

The 4th RTRS conference confirmed the acceptance of GM Soy within the sustainability criteria. Neither on the subject of pesticides production was condemned: the fumigation of only 30m of the population is classified as responsible, 200m in the case of spray planes! The criteria were not very restrictive on deforestation either; Responsible soy can grow in deforested areas until May 2009. Even fields opened later in jungle areas can be classified if they are not considered High Conservation Value Areas. [xiv]

The RTRS criteria meet the wishes of its prominent members, controversial corporations such as Unilever, Monsanto, Syngenta, Cargill, Bunge, Carrefour, ADM, BP, IFC part of the World Bank, among many other transnationals. The RTRS also includes the largest soybean farmers on the continent: Grupo Grobo de Argentina has lands throughout the Southern Cone. The Maggi Group of the former governor of Matto Grosso is the world's largest soybean producer and the head of an entire Brazilian economic and political clan. Another select member is AAPRESID, an Argentine institution of technicians and producers, sponsored by Monsanto. [xv]

Only conservation NGOs such as The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International and South American local WWF and Birdlife participate in RTRS. The RTRS has counted since its inception with the rejection of environmental NGOs and social organizations, mainly from the South. The RTRS has been denounced as a green make-up initiative to legitimize the expansion of the Soy model.

The above information reveals the framework of action of the WWF. The organization officially adheres to the GMO precautionary principle, although its practices fully demonstrate otherwise. At present it is promoting transgenics. This hypocritical action confuses the public and the local grassroots of the organization to a high degree. It should be noted that WWF works very diligently on marketing and awareness-raising strategies for its members. However, they have no idea about the international and corporate sphere of the organization. They also have no way of accessing and / or rejecting the international political game that the WWF's international division runs.

On the eve of the WTO summits and the Climate Convention in Copenhagen, there is no longer any doubt about WWF's complicity with the corporate fabric. Their actions cannot be justified, it is no longer merely a narrow-minded and conservationist strategy. Their behavior directly conceals the corporations, managing to divert international political discussions and negotiations. WWF's industry alliances make the organization a new lobby group.

One of the roles of the WWF seems to be to obstruct the denunciations and proposals of ecological social movements and critical social and scientific organizations. The Panda has ended up as the faithful servant who plays the environmental symphony so that the model of economic globalization seems to have a path of presumed sustainability. The time has come for someone to expose the dirty deals of this organization and for the WWF to receive the deserved popular rejection.

Javiera rulli - December 6, 2009 - Geneva


[1] Reduction of Emissions Derived from Deforestation and Forest Degradation

[2] APROSOJA produces approximately 25% of the annual harvest in Brazil

[3] Direct seeding is an agricultural technique that does not require plowing or turning the land. During sowing, the seeds are literally drilled into the ground. The combination of RR soy and direct seeding is a commercial success. Mechanical weeding (with the use of a plow) is replaced by chemical weeding performed with glyphosate. Direct seeding makes the use of herbicides essential for weeding; in this sense, therefore the most appropriate name would be "Chemical Direct Sowing".

[4] The CTIC is an agricultural research center whose council is made up of members of the corporations Monsanto, John Deere, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Fertilize Institute, Syngenta and CropLife America

[5] International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council (IPC)

[6] International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development

[7] The IPC was created in 1987 with the explicit purpose of achieving that the agricultural rules of the GATT of the WTO were achieved in the Uruguay round. The CPI demands the elimination of tariff barriers in developing countries and remains neutral to the massive subsidies to agribusiness in the US. Indeed, IPC is managed by the US giants Cargill, Monsanto, Bunge, ADM, whose interests are the beneficiaries according to the same WTO principles that they prepared.

[8] Coming together in the Biosolutions Initiative - Eliminating the first billion tonnes of CO2

[9] White biotechnology generally refers to GMOs in the form of bacteria or enzymes used in laboratories for industrial processes.

[10] The bioeconomy refers to "an economy based on biotechnology that uses renewable raw materials, particularly biomass and its genes, to produce products and energy at the lowest environmental cost, generating jobs and income."

[11] The Biorefinery is an homologous concept of the petrochemical refineries, in which multiple products are obtained in integrated facilities. Biorefinery involves an industry that integrates various conversion processes to produce everything from transportation fuels (ethanol and biodiesel) to high-value chemical products.



[iii] Nikoloyuk, J. 2009 "Sustainability Partnerships in Agro-Commodity Chains: A model of partnership development in the tea, palm oil and soy sectors." Utrecht-Nijmegen Program on Partnership

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.











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