Top palm oil supplier pledges no more deforestation

Saturday, February 26, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: palm oil, deforestation, health news

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(NaturalNews) After making several promises in previous years and breaking them, Indonesia' largest supplier of palm oil, Sinar Mas, has once again made a promise, this time to stop clear-cutting delicate forests and peatlands in order to set up palm oil plantations in Indonesia. The company has received much scrutiny for its unsustainable business practices over the years, and is now addressing them by reassuring the public that it will make drastic improvements.

"We will not develop plantations on High Carbon Stock (HCS) forests, High Conservation Value forest areas and peatlands," said Daud Dharsono, president director of SMART, the subsidiary of Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) that is part of the Sinar Mas group. He added that his company has developed a partnership with The Forest Trust, a Geneva-based consultancy group that works to protect forests, to see that the endeavor is successful.

But Greenpeace, the group that has fought Sinar Mas in the past and convinced major palm oil buyers like Nestle and Unilever to stop purchasing palm oil from the company (http://www.naturalnews.com/029508_Nestle_pal...), has said it is skeptical of the company's new stated direction. According to reports, Sinar Mas has made other promises regarding implementing more sustainable business operations, but failed to deliver upon them.

If Sinar Mas does comply with its promises, though, it will have a significant effect on preserving the Indonesian forests that are home to several endangered species, including the orangutan, Sumatran tiger, and rhinoceros.

"This move by GAR would have been almost unimaginable just a year ago, and -- if properly implemented -- could be an historic step towards full forest and peatland protection in Indonesia," said Rolf Skar from Greenpeace.

It is important to remember that palm oil cultivation itself is not the problem -- it is the way in which large corporations like GAR are going about doing so that is the problem. Palm oil is a very healthy oil, and it is a rich source of natural vitamin E. It is also far healthier than the commercial alternatives which include things like genetically-modified (GM) canola oil and hydrogenated vegetable oils (http://www.naturalnews.com/028941_tocotrieno...).

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