We are very pleased to introduce you to the changes that have happened in this new version of ProTerra Certification Standard. Before the changes are highlighted, it is important to provide some background information about whole process of preparing this document.
The ProTerra Standard, against which an organisation is certified, is based on the Basel Criteria for Responsible Soy (created by Coop Switzerland and WWF). The initial ProTerra Standard and its subsequent revisions were developed through a broad, multi-stakeholder process, that engaged agricultural and food industry members from both supplier and consumer countries, trade organisations, government representatives and consumers.
Today the Standard is applicable to all sectors of the food and agricultural system worldwide and at all stages of the food chain. With ProTerra certification everyone involved in the supply chain can communicate their non-GMO status and their commitment to sustainability to shareholders, employees and regulators and consumers. Being able to demonstrate that a product or ingredient has been sourced sustainably and is free of genetic modification is a powerful message.
ProTerra Foundation owns the Voluntary Sustainability Standard and the licenses for ProTerra Label for final products. However, ProTerra neither conducts audits against this Standard nor grants the ProTerra Certificates: our strategic partner, FoodChain ID company, is in charge of doing that.
How did the Certification Standard 2019 come to live?
The process for preparing and releasing the document included:
- The preparation of a draft, based on the previous edition;
- Public consultation for revision process (February to April, 2018) resulted in the following changes:
- 38% from stakeholders’ requests and suggestions;
- 21% internal feedback;
- 41% from Government, NGOs, Industry, retailers etc.
- Final publication on the website (English version).
Potentials of this new standard: overall changes
The ProTerra Standard version 4.0 strengthen its focus on all the important challenges faced by companies in the food and feed supply chains, particularly those dependent on agricultural commodities such as soy:
- Protection of the Amazon, Cerrado, Chaco biomes, and any other High Conservation Value Areas;
- Protection of the rights of communities, indigenous people, and smallholders;
- Promotion of good labour practices such as workplace safety, equal opportunities, and particular attention to preventing child and forced labour;
- Promotion of good agricultural practices, particularly regarding soil fertility, water management and continuous efforts to reduce the use of fertilisers and pesticides;
- Protection of biodiversity, particularly through rigorous Non-GMO requirements (<0.1% to adventitious 0.9% GMO maximum).
Furthermore, the ProTerra Standard version 4.0 has been benchmarked against the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to facilitate the work of companies in identifying their contribution to the SDGs.
What is new and what remains the same?
The ProTerra Certification Standard is organised in Principles that have a set of Criteria which are deployed to Indicators used in the audit process. There are now 75 core indicators (against 35 in v3.0) and the level of applicability II has been reworded as: Level II – Transport, Storage, Traders and Dealers
Here are the main changes in version 4.0 regarding each principle:
- PRINCIPLE 1: certified organizations should obtain from their suppliers a formal and signed commitment stating that they comply with the legal requirements, including those related to human rights, labour laws and environmental regulations.
- PRINCIPLE 2: indicators related to overtime work, workers living conditions, signed work agreement, among others, became core. The requirement related to parental leave was expanded to include paternity leave.
- PRINCIPLE 3: included the UN principle of free, prior and informed consent, related to land disputes. A new indicator was created: economic development as support to local economy.
- PRINCIPLE 4: modified name to “Biodiversity Conservation, Effective Environmental Management and Environmental Services” and land conversion, including the prohibition to convert high above ground stock and agricultural areas. The cut-off date of land conversion has shifted from 2004 to 2008, aligning ProTerra with other similar standards, not no longer being allowed to adjust the crop date. Several requirements were made core in a way to enforce and made robust the preoccupation of ProTerra with biodiversity.
- PRINCIPLE 5: included new definitions of GMOs and non-GMOs.
- PRINCIPLE 6: made clear distinction of handling, storage and disposal hazardous vs. non-hazardous waste.
- PRINCIPLE 7: when carried out activities damage water resources, organizations should take mitigation actions in agreement with local environmental authorities that know the best course of actions in theses situations.
- PRINCIPLE 8: organizations should develop an inventory for Greenhouse Gases (GHG) emissions, being free to choose the method that fits them best. ProTerra encourages them to disclose this information afterwards, making it publicly available.
- PRINCIPLE 9: a list of pesticides was made available; in countries where the use of pesticides is legal, there should be a plan for progressive reduction.
- PRINCIPLE 10: very little modification, main changes included rewording of some sentences.
A new appendix, containing a specific guidance for crop trees, has been incorporated to the document, where a clear distinction of what applies to small holders and what does not apply has been made.
What is next?
The timeline for next steps includes the translation of the document to Portuguese and development of training materials and capacity building implementation. By May 30th all FoodChain ID auditors shall be trained and from May to December companies and organizations can request for in-house and classroom training sessions. As of June 2019, organizations that have never been certified can require to be certified under this new ProTerra Certification Standard. We expect that, by 1st January 2020, all audits are conducted against this new standard.