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Cargill sticks with rainforest-destroying palm oil supplier

Ecologist

6th September, 2010

US food giant refuses to stop buying palm oil from Sinar Mas group as Burger King joins Nestle and others in criticising its illegal activities

The billion-dollar agribusiness giant Cargill is refusing to cut its ties with an Indonesian palm oil supplier who has admitted illegally clearing forest.

Nestle, Kraft, Unilever and Burger King have stopped trading with the Sinar Mas group after an independent audit of its operations found it broke Indonesian law by clearing land before any assessment had been made of its conservation value.

Announcing its decision this week, Burger King said the practices of Sinar Mas and its impact on the rainforest was 'inconsistent with our corporate responsibility commitments'.

The company has also been accused of trying to cover-up the critical report by initially claiming it cleared them of destroying peatlands or forests of high conservation value in Indonesia.

However, Cargill, which has also been linked to deforestation in the Amazon and is the world's largest trader of agricultural commodities, said it was encouraged by the group's commitment to 'taking corrective actions and to strengthening its standard operating procedures'.

It also says it is aiming to buy 60 percent of its palm oil from Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified growers by 2010. Sinar Mas is currently aiming for all its existing growers to become a RSPO certified by 2015.

Greenpeace has criticised such commitments as unforceable on the ground. It said Cargill would now become the focus of its campaigning against the illegal forest and peatland clearance undertaken by Sinar Mas.

'We will not stop until Cargill has stopped trading with Sinar Mas,' said Greenpeace Indonesia forest team leader Bustar Maitar.

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