Over the past decades, soy has become one of the most important worldwide commercial crops. The Netherlands is the second largest importer of soy in the world after China and is an important player in the world market. Soy is very rich in protein and in Europe it is used mainly for the production of animal fodder.
Large areas of tropical forests and grass-lands are cut down in South America to make way for soy, which the has become a major cause of deforestation. The expansion of soy cultivation all too often goes hand in hand with conflicts over land rights, the violation of workers’ rights, environmental degradation and the loss of local food security and job opportunities in South America.
Dutch intensive livestock production uses soy that has been produced in South America on a large scale. Over 75 percent of all imported soy is processed as animal fodder. Those who profit the most from the cheap imports of soy are those who raise cattle, pigs and chicken for meat production. As a result the Netherlands is faced with a serious excess of manure production, while in South America the soil nutrients must be replenished by using vast amounts of polluting artificial fertilizers.
Moreover, soy imports are so cheap that there is no incentive to develop any sort of regional or national production of animal fodder. It is simply not possible to compete with the cheap soy from South America.
Read the facts:
- every year, 1.5 to 2 million hectares of tropical forests and grasslands disappear due to the cultivation of soy (equivalent to half the total area of the Netherlands);
- small farmers and local communities are driven from their land in order to make way for the large-scale cultivation of soy;
- the cultivation of soy generates hardly any employment opportunities; at the same time, in some production areas the labour conditions are very poor;
- soy is produced for export and thus does not contribute to the production of food for the local market;
- ninety percent of all soy is destined for the production of animal fodder,which means that it constitutes an important motor behind intensive livestock production. This type of production is characterised by the serious contamination of the environment, the suffering to animals that it causes and its effect on the uneven distribution of food;
- the use of genetically modified seeds is steadily increasing. Not only is genetic manipulation an unpredictable technique, it is also accompanied by an increase in the use of artificial fertilisers and pesticides. Consequences include more erosion, higher levels of water contamination and health problems.