Sustainable Palm Oil?

Simon Fairlie chapter7 at
Wed Aug 7 00:24:14 BST 2013

> Expanding palm oil empires in the name of ‘green energy’ and  
> “sustainable development’
> Press release by Rights Action, Rainforest Rescue, Biofuelwatch and  
> Food First
> 6th August 2013 – International environmental and human rights  
> campaigners condemn the 4th Latin American Palm Oil Conference to  
> be held by the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in  
> Honduras on 6th-8th August
> From 6th-8th August, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)  
> is holding its 4th Latin American Conference on so-called  
> sustainable palm oil in Honduras [1]. (Conference website: http:// 
> Environmental and social campaigners have been  
> shocked to learn that one event sponsor is the palm oil company  
> Dinant Corporation, owned and controlled by Miguel Facusse, the  
> largest landowner in Honduras. They are calling on World Wildlife  
> Fund WWF and three other organisations to withdraw from and  
> denounce the conference being held in Honduras due to the Dinant’s  
> sponsorship of the event and the serious human rights implications  
> [2].
> Mr. Facusse was a key supporter and beneficiary of the June 2009  
> military coup in Honduras [3], has been associated with narco- 
> trafficking [4], and, along with other large oil palm growers, has  
> been linked to the targeted killing of more than 88 members and  
> supporters of peasant organisations since June 2009 in the Aguan  
> Valley [5], one of the main palm oil producing regions in Honduras.
> Annie Bird from Rights Action states: “By holding its conference  
> in Honduras and by allowing Dinant Corporation to sponsor the event  
> and hold a stall, the RSPO is turning a blind eye to systemic and  
> severe human rights abuses, including forced evictions of entire  
> communities and over 88 killings for which palm oil companies,  
> especially Dinant, are responsible. The RSPO Conference serves to  
> reinforce the impunity with which the large-scale palm producers  
> operate.”
> RSPO is overwhelmingly dominated by the interests of large  
> corporations like Nestlé, Rabobank and Unilever—all linked to  
> cases of “land grabbing” in Asia, Latin America and Africa.” [6]
> According to Tanya Kerssen, Research Coordinator for Food First,  
> “The case of Dinant is emblematic of how large, elite-controlled  
> companies use palm oil to expand their control over land and other  
> resources. The RSPO is merely window dressing for this continued  
> corporate expansion, which—whether classed as ‘sustainable’ or  
> not—necessarily means the replacement of forests, biodiversity and  
> food production with a large-scale monoculture crop for biofuel and  
> unhealthy edible oils.” [7]
> Guadalupe Rodriguez from Rainforest Rescue adds: “WWF and the  
> three other organisations involved in this RSPO conference must  
> pull out of and denounce this process. They must not, however  
> indirectly, associate themselves with palm oil businessmen involved  
> in repressing, evicting and killing peasants in Honduras’s Aguan  
> Valley.”
> The European Commission considers all biofuels from RSPO-certified  
> palm oil to be sustainable and thus eligible for government support  
> [8]. This is despite growing evidence by a large number of  
> organisations, which shows that the RSPO has not been enforcing its  
> own standards on its member companies and cannot guarantee  
> environmental or social sustainability of palm oil [9].
> Almuth Ernsting from Biofuelwatch states: “The RSPO  
> Secretariat’s decision to hold a conference in Honduras and allow  
> Dinant Corporation to contribute sponsorship and hold a stall  
> further undermines any pretence that the RSPO ‘s aim is to make  
> palm oil sustainable. Far from addressing any of the most serious  
> impacts of palm oil production, the RSPO continues to serve as an  
> instrument of greenwashing for the industry”.
> Almuth Ernsting ++44-131-6232600 (UK)
> Tanya Kerssen : ++ 510 654-4400, ext. 235 (USA)
> [1] The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is a stakeholder forum  
> which provides voluntary certification for palm oil. The great  
> majority of RSPO members represent industry interests.
> [2] See 
> wildlife-fund-solidaridad-network-snv-netherlands-development for  
> an Open Letter to WWF, Solidaridad, SNV Netherlands Development  
> Organisation and Forest Ethics on this issue.
> [3] In June 2009, the democratically elected Honduran government of  
> Manuel Zelaya was overthrown by a military coup.  Manuel Zelaya’s  
> government had begun listening to and acting on the demands of  
> peasant organisations for land reform, including in the Aguan  
> Valley region.  The land reform process was ended by the military  
> rulers after the coup.  Since then, Dinant Corporation and their  
> armed security forces have been collaborating with military forces  
> and police forces in repressing local communities who have been  
> trying to reclaim land controlled by Dinant.  See for example  
> .
> [4] Published Wikileaks Cables revealed that the US embassy in  
> Honduras has had evidence linking Miguel Facusse to drug  
> trafficking since at least 2004 and that several aeroplanes with  
> drugs have landed on his private property.  See http:// 
> brutal-businessman#
> [5] For a report by Rights Action about killings and other human  
> rights abuses in the Aguan Valley, see 
> sites/default/files/Rpt_130220_Aguan_Final.pdf .
> [6] See, for example: “The bloody products of the house of  
> Unilever” Rainforest Rescue, 2011. https://www.rainforest- 
> unilever
> [7] For more on the link between palm oil expansion and corporate  
> control, see Kerssen, Tanya. Grabbing Power: The New Struggles for  
> Land, Food and Democracy in Northern Honduras. Food First Books, 2013.
> [8] See 
> [9] Previously, over 250 organisations condemned the RSPO for  
> ‘greenwashing’ of palm oil: 
> rspo-declaration-english/ . More recently, the RSPO has been  
> denounced for example by Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth;  

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