While other commodity crops have much higher sustainable certification levels, only three percent of the world's soy supply is certified sustainable, according to a new paper by KPMG International, titled A Roadmap to Responsible Soy. By contrast, 50 percent of non-farmed whitefish is certified, 16 percent of coffee, and 14 percent of global palm oil production. The paper is part of KPMG's Sustainable Insight Series.
Soy is a valuable crop and yields more protein per hectare than most other crops. Soy demand has increased by around 70 percent in the last 10 years. However, as soy production increases, its environmental and social impacts also increase. These impacts include deforestation in the Amazon and cases of poor working conditions in India and China. In Brazil, an area roughly equivalent to South Korea, 10 million hectares, was brought into soy production between 2000 and 2010, a 73 percent growth rate. It is estimated that up to half of it may have been deforested. Brazil and Argentina account for almost half of global soybean production.
The paper identifies four key barriers that are preventing certified soy production from growing:
Although the report points out that soy can often be a hidden ingredient, there is a growing demand for products where soy is the main ingredient such as mock meats (think meatless burger patties). You can now find them at virtually any grocery store. That is something the report doesn't mention. One of the reasons for the growing popularity of mock meats is the increasing awareness of the health and environmental concerns of meat consumption. See, for example, the growing popularity of Meatless Mondays. Burger King, a profoundly pro-meat place if there ever was one, promotes Meatless Mondays and even tweets about it. If the trend to eat less meat continues alongside the trend for GMO labeling, there will eventually be more of a market demand for certified soy in the U.S.
Charlotte Vallaeys, Director of Farm and Food Policy for The Cornucopia Institute, recommends Organic certification. She told TriplePundit, "Cornucopia considers organic to be the best certification scheme for any food, including soy. Unlike any other existing certification program, the organic label prohibits genetically engineered organisms (GMOs), toxic pesticides and herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, toxic solvents in processing, etc."
Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.