To Mrs G. Verburg, Minister of Agriculture, Holland %u2028To Mr B. Koenders, Minister of Development Corporation, Holland
Dear Mrs Verburg, Dear Mr Koenders,
According to my information, the Dutch government provides financial and political support to the Round Table on Responsible Soy.
Surely, the Dutch government is already aware of the grave consequences of soy producion in Southern countries like Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. Very recently report came from Paraguay that six members of a Mbya Guarani community died from pesticide poisoning, and one peasant leader was killed in a land conflict with a large scale soy producer and landowner.
These are just individual examples. More comprehensive reports that have been published recently about the seriousness of the situation include "Sprayed Villages: About the problems concerning the use of pesticides in the major soy provinces of Argentina" (http://www.grr.org.ar/trabajos/Pueblos_Fumigados__GRR_.pdf ), and "United Republics of Soy: Realities about soy production in South America". (http://www.lasojamata.org/es/republicasunidas) A recent case studie is ""Responsible Soy in Paraguay: Grupo DAP and the advance of soy monocultures in San Pedro". (http://www.corporateeurope.org/agrofuels/content/2009/08/grupo-dap-y-la-soja-responsable). %u2028%u2028In Argentina, people from various regions (Buenos Aires, C%uFFFDrdoba, Santa Fe, Entre Rios, etc) directly affected by pesticide spraying have organised themselves in the Campaign Stop Fumigating. The health of people in these countries is seriously affected. The solution does not lie in years of talks in Round Tables that are very remote from that reality both physically and morally. %u2028%u2028The High Commission on Human Rights of the United Nations observed with concern that "the expansion of soy production is going hand in hand with indiscriminate use of pesticides, leading to death and diseases among children and adults, water contamination, the destruction of ecosystems, and damage to the traditional food resources of the communities". (http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cescr/docs/cescr39/E.C.12.PRY.CO.3_sp.pdf) %u2028%u2028The RTRS has been rejected four times now by international declarations, the last being signed by 90 organisations and networks. The RTRS has no legitimacy, as very few NGO's, and zero peasant or indigenous movements from South America have chosen to support this process. On the contrary, they are clearly opposed to it. The 2009 declaration has been sent to you recently. The earlier declarations you can find here: http://www.lasojamata.org/en/node/37. %u2028%u2028Rather than supporting the RTRS and just paying attention to the unbalanced debates that happen within that initiative, the Dutch goverment should take a clear look at the motives behind the many public denouncements made by communities affected by pesticide spraying on RR soy fields. These complaints are widely documented by environmental and human rights organisations. %u2028%u2028Instead of supporting the RTRS we recommend that: %u2028- The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture should guarantee that animal feed production takes place locally or within the boundaries of the EU, in order to feed its animals. %u2028- The Dutch Ministry of Development Cooperation should direct its efforts to support the population of Southern countries in getting access to sufficient and healthy food, instead of supporting initiatives that do not prevent that ever more arable land is taken away from the local population to benefit the export industry. Also, we suggest that the Ministry supports independent research into the health impacts on the population of pesticide use in soy production. %u2028%u2028I hope you will withdraw your support of the RTRS. I will be glad to receive your comments regarding the many denounces described in the reports that are referred to in this letter, and seeing the urgency of the situation, also your proposals as to what the Dutch government can do about this issue in the short term.