Wirkungsanalyse: Nachhaltigkeit der Schweizer Soja-Importe. Eine Studie im Auftrag des Bundesamtes für Umwelt

Grenz, Jan; Angnes, Graciele (2020). Wirkungsanalyse: Nachhaltigkeit der Schweizer Soja-Importe. Eine Studie im Auftrag des Bundesamtes für Umwelt Ittigen / Zollikofen: Bundesamt für Umwelt BAFU / BFH-HAFL

wirkungsanalyse-nachhaltigkeit-der-schweizer-soja-importe.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Publisher holds Copyright.

Download (6MB) | Preview

Switzerland imports around 280,000 tons of soya per year, mainly as feed for farm animals. Added to this are imports of animal products produced with soya feed. Soya contributes to Switzerland's environmental footprint, the reduction of which is a goal of the Swiss Biodiversity Strategy. The most important country of origin for soya imports is Brazil, especially the Cerrado region in the state of Mato Grosso. Cultivation there is considered environmentally and socially problematic. To ensure sustainable soy cultivation, Switzerland promotes voluntary production standards, including ProTerra and the Round Table for Responsible Soy (RTRS). All major players in the Swiss soy industry are organized in the Swiss Soy Network (SNS) and have achieved that by 2017 at least 92% of soy imports were certified according to their lead standards. The present study was commissioned by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment in close cooperation with the SNS to examine whether the ProTerra and RTRS standards do contribute to more sustainable soy cultivation in the Brazilian Cerrado. The study consisted of interviewing certified and non-certified soy producers in Mato Grosso about their cultivation practices and taking soil samples to test for pesticide residues. In addition, actors along the soy value chain and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were interviewed and publications, reports, databases, legal texts and satellite images of the farms were evaluated. Overall, the following was found:-The 35 farms in the investigated sample fulfil the requirement of soya production without deforestation.-The standards’ criteria are largely met by the certified farms in the sample, which implies that certified production is probably more sustainable than on non-certified farms.-Weaknesses or potential for improvement especially concern the areas of biodiversity and habitat connectivity, the reduction of pesticide usage and the diversification of crop rotations.-The small sample, of non-certified farms in particular, calls for a cautious interpretation of the results.-There is also a need for action in areas that lie outside the scope of voluntary production standards. These in clude, for example, the implementation of the forestry law in Brazil, the expansion of industry agreements such as the soya moratorium to Cerrado areas, and a reduction of the material flows associated with commodity trade.Farm visits, residue analyses, satellite image evaluations and interviews with NGOs also yielded the following findings: Unauthorized deforestation despite a certification occurred in only one case, but before joining the standard. Habitat networks only exist along watercourses, and there are hardly any ecological structures on arable land. The absence of genetically modified soy is ensured by analyses from the farm to Switzerland. Little soil degradation can be observed, only in some cases soil compaction has occurred. All arable land is limed annually and fertilized with mineral phosphorus, potassium and micronutrients. Plant protection also requires a great deal of effort. Of 92 active substances used, 37 are classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as moderately to very dangerous for humans, 13 are very persistent and toxic for several groups of organisms. On eight of the 23 ProTerra farms, three substances from WHO List Ib, which the standard bans, were used. Overall, the contamination of arable soils is comparable to that in other regions of the world. No problematic working conditions or conflicts with local communities were found. In contrast, reports from other regions and NGO assessments often mention land conflicts. Low price premiums for certified soy were mentioned as an economic problem. The overall environmental and social situation of Brazilian soy production is less good. Deforestation and land conflicts occur particularly in the MaToPiBa region (Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí, Bahia). The present study shows that with the forest law, the soya moratorium and the voluntary standards there are already diverse approaches to foster sustainable soya production. These instruments should be further developed and disseminated. With the extension of the soy moratorium to the Cerrado, the purchase of certified soy by Chinese companies and of "Segregate Flow" soy by European companies, important sustainability gaps could be closed. As a neutral pioneer, Switzerland can play an active role in such processes. Production standards could further improve the transparency of the supply chain, provided there is demand from buyers. Most of these measures are transferable to other agricultural commodities such as coffee, cocoa and palm oil. It seems advisable to further promote exchange between actors in these sectors, for example through the ISEAL organization. Global material flows and eutrophication caused by commodity imports to Europe remain outside the sphere of influence of standards. Thus, a negative impact of the changed nutrient balances on biodiversity in Brazil as well as in Switzerland cannot be avoided. Standards alone are not sufficient for achieving sustainable agriculture but should be considered as part of further measures.

Item Type:

Report (Report)


School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL
School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL > Agriculture
School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL > Agriculture > Sustainability and Circular Economy


Grenz, Jan and
Angnes, Graciele


S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
S Agriculture > SB Plant culture


Bundesamt für Umwelt BAFU / BFH-HAFL


[UNSPECIFIED] Bundesamt für Umwelt


[UNSPECIFIED] Wirkungsanalyse: Nachhaltigkeit der Schweizer Soja-Importe




Jan Grenz

Date Deposited:

21 Dec 2020 11:00

Last Modified:

22 Jun 2022 10:56

Additional Information:

Die Erlaubnis, diese Datei im ARBOR-Repository zu veröffentlichen, wurde eingeholt

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Nachhaltigkeit Soja Schweiz Brasilien Standards





Actions (login required)

View Item View Item
Provide Feedback