Markets working to support sustainable development

The Roundtable on Responsible Soy Framework

The Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS) is a multi-stakeholder initiative that uses certification to move soya traders and producers towards reponsible production. 

The RTRS Standard consists of twenty-one criteria, including relevant indicators, which fall under the following five principles: 
1. Legal Compliance and Good Business Practice
2. Responsible Labour Conditions
3. Responsible Community Relations
4. Environmental Responsibility
5. Good Agricultural Practice

The Certification Standards are implemented by third-party auditors that are required to operate in a transparent way. There is also a grievance procedured designed to enable impartial and fair review of alleged breaches by RTRS members.


Market coverage: 
  • So far, in 2014 (April), 35.987, 20 hectares and 67.221,00 tonnes of soya has been certified by RTRS. 
  • In 2013, 494.753.10 hectares and 1.142.107,00 tonnes of soya was certified by RTRS.
  • In 2011, RTRS - Soya represented 0.164% of total soy production.
Background information: 
  • The RTRS originated from the Responsible Soy Forum in London in 2004 and was formalised in Zurich in November 2006.
  • A 2-year multi-stakeholder consultation process led to the development of the RTRS Principles and Criteria for Responsible Soy Production: Field Testing Version in 2009.
  • In 2010, an international technical group was commissioned to review the Field Testing Version of the Principles and Criteria and produce an auditable final version. This was made publically available in September 2013.
  • Membership of the RTRS is multi-stakeholder and grouped according to sector type (number of representatives in brackets): producers (29); Industry, finance and trade (72); Civil society (16). In addition there are 28 organisations who are ‘observers’.
Funding source: 

The funding source is not completely clear, though there are three sponsors: The Biodiversity and Agricultural Commodities Program, The Sustainable Trade Intiative and State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. They also charge for membership with costs ranging from €250 to €2,500. 

Notable information: 
  • RTRS certified status is applicable to all kinds of soya beans, including genetically modified produce.
  • The RTRS has faced criticism for the poor performance of 10 companies in audits, particularly for the lack of baseline data, trend of expansion of monoculture soy in Amazonia and reliance on pesticides.