In response to our report on Cargill’s problems with palm oil in Indonesia released earlier this month, Cargill has been denying that it clears and burns rainforest for palm oil plantations in a public statement entitled, “Cargill sets the record straight on the false allegations made by RAN in its 2010 report.” Cargill’s response begins with the following:
“Cargill is a leader in growing and developing sustainable oil palm and we are working with well-respected environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including WWF and Fauna & Flora International, to assist us and to support the sustainable development of palm oil in Indonesia.”
That’s great, but that doesn’t mean that Cargill isn’t clearing and burning rainforests in Indonesia! We stand by the evidence released in our report and we have publicly responded too. Cargill’s plantations in Indonesia are operating in violation of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) as well as Indonesian law. Cargill has cleared forests and drained peatlands at its plantations on the island of Borneo and continues to source palm oil from suppliers, like Sinar Mas Group, who are infamous for the clearing and burning of rainforests. Cargill needs to clean up its act on its own plantations and its supplier plantations now!
While Cargill admits to owning PT Indo Sawit Kekal, it continues to deny that it cleared or burned natural forest in the area. Pictures and maps don’t lie, however. Forests have been cleared and burned at ISK, as recently as February 2010, since Cargill/CTP acquired ISK in 2005. At PT ISK, large scale burning occurred in 2006, the year Cargill clear-cut the majority of this forest in direct violation of Indonesia’s Zero Burn laws. 2006 was not an El Nino year, and satellite image analysis shows a significant overlap with the clear-cut areas and fires, implying that the use of fire was purposeful.
The Indonesian Ministry of Forest has deemed 90% of PT ISK as production forest, thus triggering the need for timber cutting permits. As you see to the left, it shows the ISK overlapping with production forest. According to allies on the ground in Indonesia, who we have been in contact with following the release of our report, ISK borders Sungai Berbadi which is a high conservation value forest which provides habitat to endangered orangutans. We are now aware that a HCV assessment was conducted by FFI, however this report is not in the public domain. We encourage Cargill to make this report public.
I can go on and on about the truth of Cargill’s palm oil operations in Indonesia, but I think that this Minnesota Independent article that came out last week, “Minnesota’s Cargill accused of ignoring law in Indonesian palm oil harvest” just about covers it.
While Cargill publicly commits to supporting sustainable palm oil and the RSPO, as well as supplying and segregating it for their customers if asked, the reality of Cargill’s palm oil supply chain is quite different. We encourage Cargill customers such as General Mills and Kraft to engage Cargill about these concerns, particularly Cargill’s violations of the RSPO P&C (no burning or clearing HCVF) and Indonesian law (lack of required permits). We also encourage Cargill customers such as General Mills & Kraft to follow the lead of Nestle by making a public statement regarding their palm oil commitments and suppliers.