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Palm oil producer caught flouting codes of conduct

Agriculture & Food

Palm oil producer caught flouting codes of conduct

A palm oil plantation in Indonesia.

[Achmad Rabin Taim/Flickr]

A coalition of NGOs documenting deforestation in Indonesia has cast doubt on the effectiveness of the code of conduct used by the palm oil industry. EurActiv’s partner Journal de l’Environnement reports.

It is the fire season in Indonesia: voluntary forest fires, lit by companies to clear tropical forest to make way for plantations of oil palms as far as the eye can see.

The NGO coalition Mighty has accused Korindo, a Korean conglomerate with large interests in the wood industry and wind turbine construction, of being behind massive deforestation operations in Insodesia. The NGOs used footage from cameras mounted on drones, satellite photos and videos taken in the provinces of Papua and North Maluku to draw attention to the destruction of 50,000 hectares of virgin forest, home to birds of paradise, tree-kangaroos and thousands of other species.

Code of conduct

Forest fires are prohibited under Indonesian rules, which have failed to discourage Korindo. But the NGOs hope an economic argument will prove more effective. Since the first revelations in early August, two major buyers of palm oil, Wilmar and Musim Mas, have suspended their orders from Korindo over the non-respect of the “No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation” code of conduct, adopted by the big palm oil producers several years ago.

The true face of the industry

“This investigation shows the true face of the palm oil industry in Indonesia even after No Deforestation policies,” Glenn Hurowitz, the US campaign director for Mighty, told the Guardian.

“The current, mostly confidential company-by-company system is inadequate. We urgently need a transparent, systematic approach, as well as further action by government and prosecutors,” he added.

Indonesian sovereignty

The Indonesian government has announced that it will send investigators to the affected areas. In June, Singapore threatened its big neighbour with legal action over the toxic fumes it is forced to endure from illegal forest fires every year. But for Indonesia, this is an issue of sovereignty that it hopes to solve without outside interference.

France adopts watered-down palm oil tax

French MPs have approved an additional tax on palm oil. But sustainably-produced oil and imports for biofuels will be exempt from the tax. EurActiv France reports.