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Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

Cargill Commits to Certified Palm Oil

Cargill, the global agribusiness company, announced that it will sell palm oil to certain countries from 100 percent certified sources by 2015 (U.S., Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) and globally by 2020. The palm oil will be certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The first commitment excludes palm kernel oil.

Cargill currently collaborates with the World Wildlife Fund-US (WWF) to "gauge the progress its palm oil suppliers in Indonesia are making in implementing the RSPO Principles & Criteria," according to a press release. The company also partners with Fauna and Flora International (FFI) to help small landowners in Malaysia and Indonesia understand the RSPO criteria.

"Cargill is an active supporter of sustainable palm and has been a member of the RSPO since it was founded. We hope this commitment will encourage more participation across the supply chain and help RSPO palm oil become the mainstream," said Paul Conway, vice chairman of Cargill.

RAN says commitments not soon enough

The Rainforest Action Network, which has had a campaign against the agribusiness giant concerning palm oil since 2007, says Cargill's commitments are not enough. "While it’s significant that Cargill has committed to a global baseline of RSPO certification, the RSPO in its current form does not guarantee that certified palm oil entering U.S. consumer brands is free of ties to deforestation, climate change, species extinction, human or Indigenous rights violations, and/or slave labor," a blog post on RAN's website states.

A press release by RAN calls Cargill's commitments a "good first step" but calls for Cargill to move the dates of its commitments up. "The sad reality is that we can’t wait until 2015, let alone 2020, for greater corporate leadership," said Lindsey Allen, Forest Program Director for RAN.

RAN also criticizes Cargill for excluding palm kernel oil from its certification commitments. "By excluding PKO, Cargill will fail to supply certified palm oil for many of the products we buy in supermarkets every day and fail to meet the rising demand of its customers," the press release said.

RAN is concerned that Cargill is "putting all its eggs in one basket, the RSPO, and that basket is riddled with holes." Greenpeace investigations, included in its 2007 report, The Palm Oil Industry Is Cooking the Climate, found that RSPO members depend on suppliers that are "actively engaged in deforestation and the conversion of peatlands."

RAN lists what companies with a palm oil policy in place which agree that Cargill's commitments are not enough can do:

  • Demand that Cargill adopt basic supply chain safeguards.

  • Demand that Cargill go beyond mass balance (mixi9ng certified palm oil with non-certified oil at any state) and provide fully segregated palm oil for all your supply chains.

  • Demand RSPO Plus, that is, putting in place the additional environmental, social and transparency safeguards needed for a credible certification standard that will eliminate controversy in your supply chain.

  • Push Cargill to accelerate implementation of its certified oil commitments.
Photo: prilfish
Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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