Pages tagged "borneo"


APRIL Makes A Mockery Of Its Own "Sustainable" Forest Policy

 

Almost six months after the release of its Sustainable Forest Management Policy, Asia Pacific Resources International Ltd (APRIL)—the second-largest Indonesian pulp & paper company—continues business-as-usual rainforest destruction, betraying the spirit and substance of its policy.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported in May that APRIL-owned PT RAPP cleared massive swaths of carbon-rich peatlands on Pulau Padang, an island off the Sumatran coast that APRIL promised to help restore. Members of island community Desa Bagan Melibur have called on APRIL to terminate operations on their community land, and Desa Bagan Melibur’s May 17 protest is the most recent clash in a stark legacy of land disputes between APRIL and Padang’s thirteen villages since 2009.

Pulau Padang’s peatlands store millions of tons of carbon and are home to endangered species and communities that depend on these forests for their livelihoods. You could also say the island itself is endangered: decaying peat causes the low-lying island to subside, and scientists warn that if no action is taken, Padang may very well be under sea level and useless for any type of cultivation by 2050.

APRIL’s forest policy itself is rife with loopholes and allows APRIL to continue slashing natural forests in its concessions through December and source rainforest fiber until 2020. Yet the company’s refusal to uphold even its weak policy commitments brings APRIL’s intentions entirely into doubt. In addition to the Pulau Padang case, earlier this year, APRIL suppliers were caught clearing natural forests on legally protected peat land in Borneo and high conservation value forest on peat land in Riau. In the latter case, not only were internationally protected ramin trees cut down, but APRIL supplier PT Triomas allegedly attempted to hide the evidence by burying the contraband logs.

There is mounting recognition that APRIL’s policy and actions are insufficient and not credible. Last Friday, RAN and an international collation of allies co-authored a letter highlighting the severe shortcomings in APRIL’s policies, such as the lack of a moratorium on natural forest and peat land conversion, unclear commitments on resolving social conflicts, and the policy’s narrow scope, which does not extend to cover APRIL’s sister companies within owner Sukanto Tanoto’s rogue cartel of companies, such as Toba Pulp Lestari, Sateri, and Asian Agri. The letter also points to the inadequacy and questionable credibility of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) APRIL set up to help develop, implement, and monitor the forest policy in a transparent and independent manner.

APRIL’s new policy and the SAC risk being nothing but a parade of environmental lip service built on teetering scaffolds of environmental destruction, social conflict, and corruption. Customers and financiers must cut ties with APRIL and other companies owned by Sukanto Tanoto and pressure APRIL to end rainforest clearing and respect community rights.

TAKE ACTION: Tell APRIL owner Sukanto Tanoto to stop pulping Pulau Padang’s rainforests.


Tell Mars, Inc. To Set an Example for the Snack Food 20

Today I visited the corporate headquarters of Mars, Inc. with Strawberry, an orphaned orangutan from Indonesia, to let the company know that consumers all across the world want Mars to stop using Conflict Palm Oil in its products. Unlike some of its fellow Snack Food 20 companies, like Kraft and Smucker’s, Mars is on the move. We have a chance to push Mars, the maker of wildly popular brands like M&Ms, Snickers, and Combos, to become an industry leader in sourcing responsible palm oil. After RAN put the snack food sector on notice last April, Mars, Inc. responded by strengthening its palm oil commitment. The company has committed to working towards sourcing 100% of its palm oil from traceable sources that are not associated with deforestation, expansion on carbon-rich peatlands and the violation of human and labor rights. Mars needs to hear from you right now! Tell the company to turn its new commitments into a global palm oil policy and take action to cut Conflict Palm Oil from its products immediately. 1. Call Mars at 1-800-627-7852. Here's a call script you can use:
“Hi, my name is [your name] from [your city]. I’m a [student, mom..] and one of your valued customers! It concerns me that your company cannot guarantee that it is not using Conflict Palm Oil in its products. Mars, Inc. must demand responsible palm oil from its suppliers and eliminate conflict palm oil from its products. I encourage you to build on Mars, Inc.’s existing palm oil procurement commitments by adopting a new global responsible palm oil procurement policy and implementation plan that ensures that the palm oil in your company’s supply chain is fully traceable, legally grown, and sourced from verified responsible palm oil producers not associated with deforestation, expansion onto carbon-rich peatlands or human and labor rights violations. Thank You!”
2. Post this message on Mars’ Facebook wall:
Hey Mars, Inc., I’m standing with orangutans, and I can’t stand by brands that use Conflict Palm Oil. Demand responsible palm oil from your suppliers and eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from your products. The power is #InYourPalm.
3. Tweet at Mars:
@MarsGlobal I can’t stand by brands that use Conflict #PalmOil. The power is #InYourPalm.
At the Mars HQ, Strawberry and I gave representatives of the company a copy of the RAN report Conflict Palm Oil: How US Snack Food Brands are Contributing to Orangutan Extinction, Climate Change and Human Rights Violations and outlined RAN's demand to cut Conflict Palm Oil. Can you call Mars and encourage the company to cut Conflict Palm Oil from its products and set an example for the rest of the Snack Food 20? And if you haven't yet, sign our petition to all of the Snack Food 20 companies, including companies like Kraft, Smucker's, and Kellogg's, in addition to Mars, to cut Conflict Palm Oil from their products.

Cargill Admits Buying Palm Oil from Illegally Cleared Orangutan Habitat

Last week, Cargill admitted to doing business with a very dodgy plantation company in Central Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) that has illegally cleared thousands of hectares of orangutan habitat — and has even allegedly hired people to hunt down and kill orangutans. Cargill admitted to Reuters that it bought at least one shipment of palm oil from PT Best in 2011, the holding group that owns the contested palm oil concession. It is likely Cargill also bought from them in the past and continues to do so today. In response to inquiries by Reuters' journalist, Cargill said it will stop buying from the firm "if any illegality was proven." This is quite embarrassing for Cargill because the illegality is already publicly acknowledged by the Indonesian government after months of digesting a hard-hitting investigation by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), and there is no doubt that thousands of hectares of orangutan habitat is already destroyed. EIA's report, "Testing the Law", documents how the 23,000 hectare (57,500 acre) concession was cleared and developed in violation of multiple Indonesian laws.

This is by no means the first time Cargill has been linked to egregious instances of deforestation and destruction of orangutan habitat. In recent months, RAN has highlighted Cargill's supply chain connections to the destruction of the Tripa rainforest in Sumatra — one of the world's most ecologically important rainforests and home to the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan. We have also been working to bring the urgent message about Cargill's involvement in orangutan extinction to the company's home town, Wayzata, Minnesota with a billboard, a robust print and online ad campaign, and thousands of publicly placed ads across the state. So far, Cargill has remained uncharacteristically silent, further suggesting it has something to hide. This is yet another case in point that raises major red flags around Cargill's commitment to what it calls a "100% sustainable supply chain." Cargill says it "wants to play a leading role in working towards sustainable palm supply and use through the RSPO, and through our own actions", going on to claim: "As such we have established a corporate sustainability commitment for our palm oil products." Clearly, this commitment is not going far enough. Here's why more transparency is so clearly needed from the company: In the past, Cargill has said it has a "no-trade list" of companies it will not do business with. In 2009, Rainforest Action Network released a case study that documented illegal rainforest clearing by palm oil company Duta Palma on the lands of the Semunying Jaya community in Borneo. Social conflict continues today between the Semunying Jaya community and Duta Palma. Despite Cargill claiming that Duta Palma was on their "no-trade list," how can consumers be sure Cargill is not sourcing from Duta Palma when, to this day, a no-trade list has yet to be made public? As the largest importer of palm oil into the US, Cargill is using membership with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) as its only filter to keep controversial palm oil out of its supply chain. Without its own safeguards around deforestation, human rights and species and climate impacts, the palm oil giant cannot ensure its supply chain does not include palm oil from controversial plantation holders like the ones operating in Tripa and PT Best. Without supply chain safeguards, Cargill is taking a huge risk by claiming its supply chain is devoid of controversy when environmental groups continue to link the company's supply chain to shameful practices.

From The Field: Borneo’s Tanjung Puting National Park And The High Stakes Of The Palm Oil Crisis

[caption id="attachment_17173" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Both the Sekonyer Community and endangered orangutans are losing their forest homes."]Community members watch an excavator tear down and dig a drainage canal in one of the last areas of natural forest remaining in the buffer zone of Tanjung Puting[/caption] Since joining RAN’s forest program over two years ago, I have read and written about the many dire consequences of industrial scale palm oil plantations in Indonesia: one of the highest deforestation rates in the world, critical habitat for endangered species like orangutans destroyed, gross human rights abuses and labor conditions, and social conflict between communities that depend on the forests for their livelihoods and the companies destroying those forests. But until recently, my personal connection to all of this remained largely academic. Our trip to the wilds of Borneo this month after attending the annual meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has transformed my theoretical understanding of the problems with palm oil. The experience of witnessing these impacts in person has been staggering, and I found it hard to believe that, even on the edge of a globally treasured, protected area, I was able to document one of the most severe cases of active forest destruction from palm oil expansion I have heard about to date. [set_id=72157628394790421] What I saw during the four days we toured the forests surrounding Borneo’s Tanjung Puting National Park was more extraordinary and devastating than anything I could have imagined. The weight of my realization about what’s at stake hit me hard the day we spent walking through old-growth tropical rainforest, seeing wild orangutans, Horn Bills, Proboscis monkeys, and the recent evidence of a Sun Bear clawing a tree for honey, followed by an afternoon watching an excavator tearing down towering trees and digging a drainage canal into one of the last areas of natural forest remaining in the buffer zone of the park. We were on the edge of a community agroforestry project designed to demonstrate an alternative to destructive monoculture in an area almost entirely razed to make way for palm oil plantations. We watched, horrified, as an irreplaceable hotspot of biodiversity fell before our eyes, two majestic Horn Bills flew overhead, and an endangered Red Langur monkey peered at us through the trees. After spending a full day documenting human rights abuses with our allies from Save Our Borneo, an organization working on the frontlines of Central Kalimantan’s palm oil expansion crisis, RAN forest team member Lafcadio Cortesi and I took a night bus across Borneo from the city of Palangkaraya to Pangkalanbun. Even though the landscape was shrouded in darkness, the endless sea of sterile palm oil plantations beyond the road stood out throughout our entire 11 hour journey — a grim reminder that the province of Central Kalimantan has one of the fastest rates of oil palm expansion in Indonesia, perhaps even in the world. [caption id="attachment_17174" align="alignright" width="300" caption="The Sekonyer River"]The Sekonyer River[/caption] Around 4am we arrived in the small port town of Kumai at the office of Friends of the National Parks Foundation (FNPF), the incredible organization my colleague Laurel visited in Bali earlier this year that also operates community development and reforestation projects in Borneo. I collapsed in a makeshift bunk bed and fell asleep to the sounds of Indonesian sunrise: distant speakers blaring Muslim calls to prayer, a singing gecko, a rooster crowing, and a chainsaw running somewhere behind the little house we slept in. A few hours later we were racing to the edge of the Kumai River on motorbikes to travel by speed boat to the Sekonyer River, the gateway to Tanjung Puting National Park. Tanjung Puting is a globally recognized biosphere reserve and an unparalleled diversity hotspot. It’s home to many endangered species such as orangutans and Clouded leopards. Despite the incredible importance of Tanjung Puting, the park and its surroundings — the buffer zone — are under threat from illegal logging and mining operations and, most ominously, the encroachment of palm oil. The reckless, short-sighted expansion of palm oil plantations in Central Kalimantan is pushing many of these species to the brink of extinction, literally leaving them with nowhere to go. The disappearing rainforest we witnessed falling is sandwiched between the Sekonyer River, the national park, and 10,000 hectares of plantations. Inside the national park, orangutans have more hope of survival. But orangutans can’t swim, so when we saw a pregnant orangutan mother with her young children on the west side of the river — where the forest was actively being converted to oil palm plantation — my heart sank. [caption id="attachment_17175" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Oil Palm on Peat"]Oil Palm on Peat[/caption] The deeper in we got, the more severe the problems. The drainage canals along the edge of the plantations were filled with the dark black water of dissolved peat soil — highlighting the troubling reality that the much of this plantation was on top of carbon-rich peat soils and thus emitting massive amounts of CO2 as it rots upon being exposed to the air. In the converted peatlands, many of the oil palms were growing sideways and some even falling over. It seemed certain that the yields were marginal and the costs — the loss of a thriving and rare ecosystem and community livelihoods — was great. It seemed sure the Indonesian law prohibiting conversion of deep peatlands was being violated. Responsible for this mess is BW Plantations, an RSPO member with about 100,000 hectares (240,000 acres) of oil palm plantations in Central and East Kalimantan. In addition to its draining of peatlands and destroying primary forests right up against a national park filled with many of the world’s last orangutans, the company is also grossly disrespecting the rights of the local community. [caption id="attachment_17176" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Community secretary Mr. Taufik delivers an impassioned speech about the community's resistance to palm oil expansion. The banner reads: PT Bumi Langgeng Return Community Rights"]Community secretary Mr. Taufik delivers an impassioned speech about the community's resistance to palm oil expansion. The banner reads: PT Bumi Langgeng Return  Community Rights[/caption] The vibrant village of Tanjung Harapan on the Sekonyer river has over 100 families who are actively opposing the palm oil plantation and its expansion. Immediately upon entering the village by water, we saw two huge protest banners and a large sign reading, “PT Bumi Langgeng: Return the Rights of the Sekonyer Community.” The community members depend on the forest for their livelihoods and see the encroaching palm oil as a threat to their reliance on community food gardens, agroforestry, and fishing. They are angry that the palm oil plantation has used over 2,200 hectares (over 5,000 acres) of their village lands without any consultation or approval. During our stay in the Sekonyer community, we slept under mosquito nets on a boat on the river’s edge. Our second night we met with community leaders and they told us their story. We learned that the community has been at odds with the palm oil company PT Bumi Langgeng, a subsidiary of BW Plantations, for many years over a land conflict. In the last several months, community resistance has escalated as land clearing continues at breakneck speed. I could actually hear the bulldozers demolishing forest from the community garden — to say it was unsettling would be a major understatement. [caption id="attachment_17177" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Mother and baby orangutan at Camp Leakey"]Mother and baby orangutan at Camp Leakey[/caption] When the company cut down the community’s native rubber trees around six months ago, it triggered the first demonstration. Police showed up but no one was arrested. The latest demonstration took place just a few months ago after community leaders sent formal letters of complaint to the company as well as the district, provincial, and national governments seeking recognition of their lands, compensation for the 2,200 ha. of community land already taken by the company, and a halt to further expansion into forests and remaining community lands. Community members blocked the canal from the palm oil plantation to the main river. So far they have not received any response. This is the true cost of palm oil. Is it worth it? As the cheapest, highest-yielding vegetable oil and now the most heavily traded edible oil in the world, I understand that companies benefit from this lucrative industry so dependent on cheap labor and precious yet cheap rainforests. But at what price are we going to continue expanding this commodity? Expansion of palm oil into ecological and cultural hotspots needs to stop. The community of Sekonyer needs our support to secure their rights and justice. The time is ticking for the orangutans and other species depending on the forests — if they can’t be protected from palm oil expansion on the edge of a national park, the prospects for responsible palm oil look grim.

RAN Staff Finds Deforestation And Violence For Palm Oil Unchecked By The RSPO

[caption id="attachment_17057" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="RAN sent a delegation of four staff to lobby for human rights and rainforest protections at the 9th Annual RSPO Meeting in Malaysia."]RSPO logo [/caption] As the 9thAnnual Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) meeting wrapped up on the island of Borneo, the crisis stemming from the uncontrolled expansion of palm oil plantations into rainforests and communities reached a fever pitch. Consider this: In the few days that RAN’s four staff-member delegation attended the RSPO meeting in SE Asia, the Forest People’s Programme (FPP) released a comprehensive and scathing report that documents Cargill supplier and palm oil giant Wilmar’s complicity in the bulldozing of homes and the use of live ammunition to forcibly evict Indigenous community members on the island of Sumatra. In a press conference on the human rights impacts of palm oil held during the RSPO meeting, Rukaiyah Rofiq, who goes by Uki and works with the human rights advocacy group Yayasan Setara Jambi, warned that companies producing palm oil under the RSPO umbrella are failing to resolve the social conflict caused by plantation expansion. In a November 24 article in the print version of the Borneo Post titled “RSPO Emboldens Violators of Indigenous Rights – NGO,” Uki said:
Ideally, we had hoped that with the RSPO, these conflicts would be stopped or at least reduced, and the rights of the communities be restored. But we’re not seeing any impact with the RSPO. This is evident in the ninth meeting we’ve had with the RSPO. There has not been any change; the conflicts have not decreased. The presence of RSPO has not reduced or resolved the conflicts.
Uki is referring to the more than 600 cases of social conflict related to palm oil in Indonesia documented by Sawit Watch. In the same press conference, Jefri Gideon of Sawit Watch said: “There is a big hope among everyone that the RSPO can help resolve these conflicts.” He urged RSPO members to go beyond talking about the RSPO principles and criteria and code of conduct and actually implement them. During the same week, the Jakarta Globe published two articles, "Indonesian Palm Oil Dispute at ‘Crisis Point’" and "Paradise Lost at Hands of Palm Oil Companies", about a separate conflict surrounding the village of Muara Tae on the island of Borneo. Muara Tae is in a stand-off with a palm oil firm whose forest clearing threatens the villagers’ entire way of life. Community member Petrus Asuy issued an impassioned plea, saying, “Because of the palm oil plantations, our water has become polluted and many of our springs have dried up. We took our case to the local government, but they ignored us. We are completely against these companies because they have compromised our way of life. What hope is there now for our grandchildren? We are pleading for help for our situation and for this activity to stop.” It has become abundantly clear that wherever massive international commodity corporations are granted huge forest concessions and allowed free reign to manage them, community conflict and environmental devastation quickly follow. It is more imperative than ever that companies like Cargill and Wilmar immediately address the serious problems of human rights abuses and rainforest destruction in their supply chains and become a part of the solution to this crisis instead of indiscriminately trafficking palm oil into North American and European markets. Please take a moment to ask Cargill CEO Greg Page to adopt safeguards to keep controversial palm oil out of American food products.

A Lonely Voice For Forests, People, And The Climate

[caption id="attachment_16893" align="alignleft" width="260" caption="The 9th Annual RSPO Meeting is in Sabah (Malaysian Borneo)"]The 9th Annual RSPO Meeting is in Sabah (Malaysian Borneo)[/caption] In an interview, Dr. Marc Ancrenanz of HUTAN notes that oil palm plantations cover a staggering 14,000 square kilometers of Sabah, one of the two states in Malaysian Borneo and the number one producer of Malaysian palm oil. This is equal to 20 Singapores planted solely with palm! In the same interview, Dr. Marc Ancrenanz mentions that genetic studies in Sabah show that the orangutan population has declined by 50% to 90% over the past few decades. This severe decline is due to several causes, such as hunting and the illegal pet trade, but the foremost reason is forest loss as it is cut down and converted to agriculture. This final frontier — home of our globe's oldest rainforests and last stands of orangutans — is the setting for this year's RSPO conference, where strange bedfellows come together and debate the "sustainable" palm oil industry. Activists, industry heavy weights, and the Malaysian Palm Oil Association spend three days playing their respective hands in the struggle over the fate of  tropical forests. Major plantation companies like Sime Darby and Wilmar attend the conference to try and stop the RSPO from making it any more difficult for them to convert rainforest to palm oil plantations, while RAN brings a different set of values to the meeting. Next week, when families across North America are celebrating Thanksgiving with their families, our team will be attending the 9th annual Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) conference in Borneo. Comprised of mostly Indonesia and Malaysia, Borneo is the third-largest island in the world and is known for being one of the most biologically and culturally rich landscapes in the world. Unfortunately, these incredible rainforests are in grave danger from Indonesia and Malaysia's unchecked agricultural expansion. Our goal is to advocate for human rights, demonstrate the need for companies to establish safeguards on their palm oil supply chains, and stop the RSPO from certifying forest conversion in the face of this industrial agriculture onslaught. We will gather stories from community members affected by Cargill suppliers, many of whom attend the conference as delegates of Sawit Watch and travel from several different regions impacted by the palm oil operations of Sime Darby, Tribakti Sari Mas, Cresna Duta Agrindo, & Asiatic Persada/Wilmar. The controversy-laden palm oil peddled by these companies is exported around the world by Cargill and ends up in half of the products in your grocery store — think Kellogg's, Smucker's, and Girl Scout cookies. [caption id="attachment_16892" align="alignleft" width="375" caption="The RSPO has come a long way, but not far enough"]The RSPO has come a long way, but not far enough[/caption] Throughout the conference RAN will be advocating for several demands to ensure that human rights and the environment are respected by the palm oil industry: The RSPO must start protecting rainforests and the communities and species that depend on them, and must stop certifying palm oil as "sustainable" if it was grown using the horribly destructive practice of draining carbon rich peatlands and exacerbating climate change. The RSPO must also stop dragging its feet and adopt a greenhouse gas emissions standard if it wants its palm oil certification standard to have any level of credibility. Lastly, the RSPO must implement an effective grievance process that actually addresses pending social conflict complaints and includes a dispute settlement facility that truly respects human rights.

The Human Cost Of Palm Oil Expansion

“Before we had a happy life,” Ms. Gaong said she tells her grandchildren. “Now it’s a difficult life. There’s nothing left for them.”
[caption id="attachment_16702" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The future of these children remains at stake until the companies responsible for palm oil plantation expansion in Borneo start respecting human rights."]Children in Indonesia[/caption] The recent story in the New York Times titled "Clashes Between Tribes and Agribusiness Increase in Malaysia" tells an all-too common story. It's not a happy story. It's the story of farming families getting forced off their land, of vanishing cultures, of corporations trying to "compensate" families for their livelihoods and decades of subsistence with $1,600.
Indigenous people in Malaysia have long complained that their historical claims to their land are being sacrificed in the name of progress. But as the country continues its push toward economic prosperity, with key commodities like palm oil a valuable export, rights groups and lawyers say that encroachment on indigenous land is increasing.
Read the powerful story for yourself. It takes place in Sarawak, which is Malaysia's largest state on the northwest coast of Borneo. The state is known for its natural and cultural wonders, but Malaysian palm oil producers are destroying Borneo's carbon-rich peat forests faster than ever before. According to Mongabay and Wetlands International, “more than one third (353,000 hectares or 872,000 acres) of Sarawak's peatswamp forests and ten percent of the state's rainforests were cleared between 2005 and 2010. About 65 percent of the area was converted for oil palm.” The article goes on to say:
The land that he says once thrived with an abundance of crops that fed his family and provided their livelihood has been stripped bare. Young palm trees now sprout from the ochre-colored earth where he says his relatives had lived since before World War II.
Indigenous peoples and forest communities are not the only ones impacted by palm oil expansion. From an interview with Dr. Marc Ancrenanz of HUTAN in 2010:
Genetic studies in Sabah show that orang-utan population have declined by 50 to 90% over the past few decades. This severe decline is due to several causes such as hunting and pet trade, but the foremost reason is forest losses when the forest is cut down and converted to agriculture.
So we have to ask ourselves: Is using palm oil in Girl Scout cookies or Skippy Peanut Butter worth the wholesale destruction of cultural and ecological biodiversity that it creates?

Cargill: Keep Slave Labor Out of US Grocery Stores

Did you know that palm oil—a pervasive vegetable oil widely known for its disastrous effect on rainforests—is found in about half of the goods at your local grocery store? Palm oil is now also linked to slave labor. You can thank Cargill for that. Cargill is the largest importer of palm oil into the US, supplying most food companies in America. Last week, Rainforest Action Network uncovered an alarming connection linking Cargill's palm oil imports to slave labor on the island of Borneo. Here's the scoop. Kuala Lumpur Kepong (KLK)—one of Malaysia's largest palm oil plantation companies—is the company that I criticized back in my November 2010 blog post with documented testimonials of two palm oil plantation workers who'd encountered 21st century slave labor conditions on the plantations of a KLK subsidiary. The two villagers from Northern Sumatra were lured by representatives of a KLK subsidiary to work in the company’s palm plantations, only to be forced into slave labor conditions for months until they could escape without being paid. Just last week we confirmed that KLK supplies palm oil to Cargill. Customs data shows that Cargill imported at least 14 shipments of palm oil — totaling at least 10,000 tons — from Kepong Edible Oils (a fully owned subsidiary of KLK) between October 2008 and March 2011. As we stated in our press release:
Cargill is buying its oil from companies connected to some of the very worst examples of corporate environmental destruction and human rights abuses. This is yet another of many examples RAN has identified in our three years of campaigning on Cargill that demonstrates the immediate need for the company to adopt a comprehensive palm oil policy.
Until Cargill adopts the following basic safeguards, the company can't guarantee to American consumers that slave labor is not ending up in their food: SOCIAL SAFEGUARDS - A commitment to resolve social and land rights tenure conflicts, a no-trade position for growers using child or slave labor, adherence to obtaining free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) of forest-dependent communities before lands are acquired or developed, and a commitment to implement the United Nations “protect, respect and remedy” framework for human rights.* ENVIRONMENTAL SAFEGUARDS - A commitment to reduce biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions by ending the expansion of palm oil plantations into High Conservation Value (HCV) areas including critical habitat, peatlands and High Carbon Stock forests and/or remaining natural forests. PUBLIC TRANSPARENCY - A commitment to transparent and consistent reporting of metrics and targets as well as regular stakeholder and rights-holder engagement. As if being implicated in slave labor wasn't enough damage for Cargill's brand in one week, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and its Indonesia partner, Telapak, recently exposed a juicy scandal that implicates Cargill in a dirty mess of illegal logging through its ties to the same company—KLK. The evidence provided by EIA and Telapak proves that KLK cleared carbon-rich peat forest in Indonesia's Central Kalimantan province illegally as the company failed to secure proper licenses. This scandal was documented on the very first day of Indonesia's logging moratorium — a cornerstone of Norway's $1 billion climate deal with Indonesia. According to the report, the Norwegian Government has a $41.5 million shareholding in KLK, thereby standing to profit from the company's recently exposed illegal clearance.

TAKE ACTION

Ask Cargill to adopt basic supply chain safeguards to prevent palm oil that causes rainforest destruction and human rights violations from tainting America’s food supply. **A commitment to implement the United Nations “protect, respect and remedy framework” over civil and political, social, economic, cultural and environmental rights of affected communities and vulnerable groups of indigenous peoples, migrant workers, women and children. - Human Right Council, March 2011. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework

Does the RSPO Care About Forests and People?

Yesterday was the deadline given to IOI Corporation by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to resolve its social conflict with the community of Long Teran Kanan or else face penalties. And guess what? The RSPO again failed to take decisive action against IOI. Meanwhile, IOI is sticking to its guns and defending its indefensible decision to open land for palm cultivation in violation of the law and the land rights of the Long Teran Kanan people. Which begs the question: Does the RSPO even care about forests and people? [caption id="attachment_13505" align="alignnone" width="550" caption="IOI Pelita Palm Oil Operations in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. Click to view larger image. Photo: Eric Wakker."]IOI Pelita Palm Oil Operations in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. Photo:Eric Wakker[/caption] The international community is outraged and sent the following Open Letter to the RSPO:
Dear RSPO Leadership, With disbelief and outrage we have taken notice of RSPO's announcement about 'considerable progress in the past 21 days with regards to interaction between involved parties' on IOI Corporation Berhad Grievance Case. (RSPO website, 25 May 2011). We are dismayed with another prolongation by RSPO, and the lack of transparency in handling the process. The complainants of the grievance have seen no improvement in the interaction with IOI nor with RSPO. Our feedback to RSPO, given jointly by all complainants, has also made sufficiently clear that we are deeply concerned that IOI Group's current proposal will not resolve the issues. Since the previous update on RSPO's website from 4 May, we have not seen anything black-on-white proving that the company is willing to take responsibility for their illegal opening of land in Ketapang, or their willingness to mitigate the environmental damage done, or their commitment to recognize the land rights of the people of Long Teran Kanan. The company has not communicated with us directly about possible improvements of their action plan. Instead of considerable progress, since May 4, we have merely seen IOI breaking down progress with increasingly vigilant public denials of its problems in Sarawak and Ketapang. An example of which is an article on IOI's website that allegations against IOI would just be not true. This will not do. We again call on the RSPO to take more decisive action to hold IOI Corporation to account, including a suspension of all RSPO certificates for IOI's estates and mills, until the grievance issues are indeed solved. With kind regards, Grassroots Lembaga Gemawan Kontak Rakyat Borneo Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN-AP) Rainforest Action Network Sarawak Indigenous Lawyers Association (SILA) Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) Save our Borneo Sawit Watch Tenaganita Vereniging Milieudefensie Friends of the Earth Europe WALHI Kalimantan Barat

RAN Invites 100 Cargill Employees to Born To Be Wild

Born to be Wild movie posterOn the eve of the global premier of Born To Be Wild, we sent this invitation to Cargill CEO Greg Page. We hope he and many of his Cargill employees will take us up on this generous offer!
Dear Mr. Page and employees of Cargill, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and Orangutan Foundation International (OFI) would like to extend a formal invitation for you and your employees at Cargill Inc. to attend a screening of your choice, at our expense, of the new IMAX 3D feature film Born To Be Wild. This inspiring film features exquisite footage of young orangutans and baby elephants and tells the stories of the compassionate humans working to rehabilitate them back to the wild. The film is uplifting in spirit and focuses primarily on these two amazing animals and the heart-warming efforts of people trying to help them, while also highlighting serious but often overlooked issues central to the business operations of Cargill. Many of the orangutans featured in the film were orphaned because their parents were killed when their rainforest habitat was cleared to make room for palm oil plantations. Orangutans are critically endangered and live only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Unfortunately, this is an all too common story. As the number one importer of palm oil into the United States, Cargill has a unique role to play to ensure that rampant palm oil development does not continue to result in rainforest destruction and orangutan extinction. We understand that the forests of Indonesia are a long way from Wayzata, Minnesota, and it can be difficult to fully connect the dots between business decisions made here and the costs these incur to people and places literally a world away. There is a very real risk that iconic animals like the orangutan could be pushed into extinction within our lifetimes, but it does not have to be this way. Strangely enough, it may well be businessmen headquartered in places like the Twin Cities who ultimately decide their fate. So please accept this opportunity to allow IMAX 3D to bring the rainforest to you. We feel so strongly that it is important for you to see this film that we are offering to pay for tickets for the first 100 Cargill employees who email keepuswild@ran.org. We will arrange for tickets to be reserved at the theater confidentially and with no strings attached. To view a trailer for the film and find other background materials on this issue, please visit www.ran.org/wild. Sincerely, Becky Tarbotton Executive Director, Rainforest Action Network Dr. Birute Mary Galdikas Director, Orangutan Foundation International

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