Soybean Association and 54 other organisations withdraw from biased Sustainable Standard Development Process

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ASA Withdraws From Leonardo Academy’s Sustainable Ag Standard Development Process

Press Release — ST. LOUIS, MO — October 19, 2010 — The American Soybean Association (ASA) today announced that it is withdrawing from the Leonardo Academy’s initiative to develop a sustainable agriculture standard for American National Standards Institute. While ASA supports the goal of a sustainable agriculture standard, it has become clear that that the Leonardo Academy process is biased against a balanced and open analysis of modern agriculture. Fifty-four other commodity and farm organizations representing U.S. production agriculture interests joined ASA in withdrawing from the Leonardo Academy’s process.

“This decision was not made easily,” said ASA Board member Ron Moore, a soybean producer from Roseville, Ill., “for it means walking away from nearly two years of investment in active Leonardo Academy Committee membership in an effort to produce an ‘on-farm’ standard. However, it is clear based on actions this past summer that any continued effort cannot and will not overcome the serious systemic limitations and chronic biases that are inherent in the structure the Leonardo Academy has set up for this initiative.” After being elected Vice-Chair of the Standards Committee at its inception, Moore has served as Acting Chairman since June 2010.

Despite the Leonardo Academy’s claim that the Committee is made up of members from “across all areas of agriculture,” in reality the Committee is dominated by environmental groups, certification consultants, agro-ecology and organic farming proponents. These groups have neither the vision nor desire to speak for the farmers of mainstream agriculture who produce more than 95 percent of the food consumed in or exported by the United States.

“U.S. farmers are very much dedicated to the long-term sustainability of their farms and their farming practices,” Moore said. “For this reason, farmers will embrace an achievable roadmap for the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainability, but only if they are part of its development. We are committed to working toward such goals in the hope that widespread adoption will contribute to real sustainability of American agriculture. This cannot occur within the Leonardo Academy process.”

Over 900 million people worldwide suffer from malnutrition today, so having a sustainable food supply is of primary importance worldwide. In the next 20 to 30 years, agricultural output must double in order to feed the projected population growth.

Voting delegates at ASA’s 2010 annual policy-setting meeting signaled their support for sustainable agriculture, voting that “ASA supports developing a progressive definition of agriculture sustainability that encompasses profitable, intensive production and encourages consumer acceptance of biotechnology enhanced products and satisfies food, feed, fiber and biofuel needs.” The voting delegates also re-affirmed their support for the statutory definition of sustainable agriculture included in the 1990 Farm Bill.

ASA represents all U.S. soybean farmers on domestic and international issues of importance to the soybean industry. ASA’s advocacy efforts are made possible through the voluntary membership in ASA by over 22,500 farmers in 31 states where soybeans are grown.

Ron Moore, ASA Board member
(309) 734-5083
[email protected]

Cassandra Langley, Communications Coordinator
(314) 576-1770
[email protected]

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David Tribe is an applied geneticist, teaching graduate/undergrad courses in food science, food safety, biotechnology and microbiology at the University of Melbourne.