Jakarta, 25 March - US food company Cargill has become the latest multinational to demand answers from Indonesian palm oil giant Sinar Mas about claims it is devastating forests rich in carbon and wildlife.
Sinar Mas rejects claims of environmental vandalism but has been hit hard by image-conscious buyers Unilever and Nestle deciding to drop the company as a supplier in recent months in response to protests by Greenpeace.
Cargill said it had asked Sinar Mas to respond to Greenpeace’s allegations and had sought an investigation by the industry body, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
“Cargill is keenly aware about the allegations made in December 2009 by Greenpeace about illegal forest clearance and the Indonesian palm oil company, Sinar Mas,” it said on its website.
“When we became aware of the Greenpeace report we contacted Sinar Mas?s senior management and we have communicated to them that we are looking to them to address the issues in the Greenpeace report.
“Additionally, we urged the RSPO board to review this issue. We are pleased the RSPO Board has instructed the RSPO secretariat to get a response from Sinar Mas to the allegations in the Greenpeace report.”
It said it expected answers from the company “by the end of April, 2010”.
“If the RSPO validates the allegations of improper land conversion or illegal planting in deep peat land as alleged in the Greenpeace report and Sinar Mas does not take corrective action, we will delist them as a supplier,” it added.
Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology (SMART) president director Daud Dharsono said the company was trying to “verify” Greenpeace’s report.
“We are in touch with Cargill to assure them that we do not develop on high carbon stock and high conservation value areas,” he said.
Clearing for palm oil plantations is contributing to the rapid destruction of vast tracts of Indonesian jungle, making the country one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world.