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Indonesian palm oil giant broke commitments: Greenpeace

Source:  Copyright 2010, Agence France-Presse
Date:  April 27, 2010
Original URL: Status DEAD
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Greenpeace on Tuesday disclosed what it said was new evidence showing Indonesia's biggest palm oil producer Sinar Mas broke a pledge not to destroy forest rich in carbon and wildlife.

Activists from the environmental group said they had discovered recently that a Sinar Mas subsidiary, PT BAT, was still clearing rainforest near a habitat of orangutans, an endangered species, in Central Kalimantan.

Two weeks ago, Greenpeace unveiled what it said was evidence that another Sinar Mas subsidiary, PT ALM, was "destroying deep peatland and high conservation value forest" in West Kalimantan.

"These cases show that Sinar Mas' commitments are meaningless and nothing but greenwash," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia forest campaigner Bustar Maitar.

Sinar Mas had said in a policy statement in February and in its 2009 annual report that it was committed to sustainable environmental principles promoted by the industry body, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

But Greenpeace said the evidence proved otherwise and vowed to continue with a campaign urging customers to cut ties with the Indonesian firm until "it cleans up its act".

US food company Cargill in March became the latest multinational to demand answers from Sinar Mas about claims it is devastating forests.

Anglo-Dutch multinational Unilever and Switzerland's Nestle have dropped the company as a supplier in response to protests by Greenpeace.

Sinar Mas said in a statement Tuesday it had suspended a plantation manager responsible in the case cited by Greenpeace in West Kalimantan.

It has also requested an independent investigation to verify Greenpeace's allegations and reaffirmed its commitment to the RSPO principles.

"This commitment applies to all plantations owned and managed by (Sinar Mas) and its parent company, Golden Agri-Resources Ltd," it said.

"In the meantime, the company views any breach of its sustainability practices seriously and has suspended the plantation manager responsible for the area highlighted in the Greenpeace report."

Sinar Mas said the palm oil industry is crucial to alleviating poverty in Indonesia as it provides direct employment for about 4.5 million people and generated 10.4 billion US dollars worth of exports last year.

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