Sustainability

3 June 2013

Guideline on soy in animal feed

The REWE Group carries a variety of animal-based products, including milk, sausage and meat. In producing these goods, it is crucial to provide the animals with an adequate supply of proteins. Soya meal imported from overseas often serves this purpose – leading to the clearing of the rain forest and the use of pesticides and genetic engineering. The REWE Group wants to address these challenges by using more sustainable feeds.

Background

Soya meal from overseas is the most important feed component for REWE Group brands, and most of it comes from the United States, Brazil and Argentina. Like demand for meat and sausage, demand for soya meal is steadily increasing. Soya can be cultivated cheaply, as a monoculture, by using genetically engineered soya varieties that are resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, which keeps the fields free of weeds. More and more primary and secondary forests are being cleared to make way for these enormous areas – accompanied by a loss of biodiversity and the destruction of ecosystems and CO2 reservoirs. Monocultures lead to soil erosion, which in turn requires the clearing of more forest land. Leasing costs rise as soya plantations expand, forcing small farmers to seek new areas to settle – and once again forests are cleared. Glyphosate can be poisonous to humans, and some types of weeds have become resistant.

Our goals

To make the procurement of feeds more sustainable and address the negative effects of soya cultivation in a responsible way, the REWE Group is pursuing two goals: First, it is seeking to replace soya meal imported from South America with domestic and European protein sources. Since doing so will require changes in European agriculture, however, REWE also wants to minimise the negative side effects of cultivating transgenetic soya beans, and in particular the negative effect on biodiversity. The REWE Group intends to do this by using soya that is free of genetic engineering and is not associated with deforestation.

Our measures

The REWE Group has taken a variety of steps to achieve its objectives. It is a founding member of the Danube Soya Association, which is dedicated to promoting soya cultivation in Europe’s Danube region that is free of genetic engineering and does not promote deforestation, and therefore has a positive effect on agriculture. Another reason for REWE’s move to prioritise domestic or European sources of feed proteins: Increasing cultivation of domestic protein plants makes European crop rotations more productive and thus more sustainable. Legumes (field beans, forage peas, lupines, as well as European soya beans) enrich soils naturally by adding nitrogen, and as a result there is subsequently less need for synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, which contribute to climate change. The REWE Group requires the producers of its brand products to use soya that is free of genetic engineering and does not lead to deforestation. This requirement is managed individually for each livestock species.