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Nov 19, 2009

FoEI submit grievance against roundtable on sustainable palm oil

by PhilLee — last modified Nov 19, 2009 12:48 PM

Friends of the Earth International have submitted a grievance against members of the roundtable on sustainable palm oil (RSPO) who sit on the board of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council and have repeatedly broken RSPO's code of conduct.

The grievance has been made against the Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA), who are a co-founder and member of RSPO as well as an institutional representative in the Board of Trustees of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC). The grievance furthermore extends to RSPO members whose CEOs or Board Members are also represented in the MPOC Board of Trustees.


RSPO members have committed themselves to be bound by a Code of Conduct which states:

"Members will not make any misleading or unsubstantiated claims about the production, procurement or use of sustainable palm oil."

MPOC is not a member of RSPO but key RSPO members have been and continue to be heavily represented in the MPOC Board of Trustees.


MPOC has never publicised information about the mandates of its Board of Trustee members. In view of the generally accepted roles and responsibilities of such Board of Trustee members it is fair to assume that such directors are responsible to help shape the organisation’s policies, carry responsibility for its practices at large and help implement the organisation’s policies.

Furthermore, the 2007 MPOC Annual Report highlights how MPOC’s Board of Trustee members have contributed to MPOC’s marketing efforts world-wide.

The members of the Board of Trustees are therefore assumed to be responsible for MPOC’s external communications. This is highly relevant, because in the last 2 years, MPOC has twice seen its advertisements banned from British media for breaches of the Advertising Standards Authority.


We will report back on the outcome


further reading

Read the grievance here

Oct 22, 2009

Featured video: Killing Fields

by Krista Stryker — last modified Oct 22, 2009 11:30 AM

As part of the project Feeding and Fueling Europe, "Killing Fields: the Battle to Feed Factory Farms" seeks to illustrate the hidden chain of destruction from the factory farms in Europe to the forests of South America.

Killing FieldsThe documentary looks at the huge soy plantations in South America that are wiping out the local wildlife, negatively contributing to climate change and forcing thousands of indigenous people from their land. Soy plantations have been growing in recent years due to the huge demand for the crop in Europe to feed factory farmed pigs, chickens and cows.


Killing Fields reveals the true cost of growing soy in South America, suggesting that both South America and Europe are being harmed in the unsustainable practice of factory farming.


Watch the film here

Sep 24, 2009

European biofuel use driving disaster in Indonesia

by Krista Stryker — last modified Sep 24, 2009 01:05 PM

Borneo's forests, wildlife and people are at an elevated risk due to Europe's increasing use of biofuels.

European biofuel destructionNew research released by Friends of the Earth shows for the first time the extent of damage being caused by the European Union’s increasing use of biofuels.

The research focuses on the massive expansion of palm oil in the Indonesian district of Ketapang and reports on the deforestation, illegal operations and social conflicts caused by the growing demand for palm oil in Europe.

The report follows last week’s announcement by the World Bank to cease funding palm oil projects.



The research conducted in Ketapang, a large district in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, investigates how demand for palm oil for energy is leading to an expansion of palm oil crops, and whether so-called sustainability schemes prevent illegal operations, deforestation, climate emissions and social conflicts. It concludes that:

  • In the last three years, the government of Ketapang handed out licenses to grow palm plantations on 40% of the district’s land surface, bypassing laws intended to protect forests, the environment and people.


  • 39 of the 54 licenses overlap with 400,000 hectares of protected forests, including parts of a national park with orang-utan habitat. Permits to grow palm plantations now cover 1.4 million hectares.


  • 43% of the land being acquired is by companies that are members of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), and the same violations are being committed by members as by non-members.


  • The rights of local communities are often ignored. 20 land conflicts had been reported by the end of 2008, and this figure is set to rise as the expansion of plantations increases.


European biofuel destruction in IndonesiaGeert Ritsema, head of globalization and environment at Friends of the Earth Netherlands, said: "The rising demand for palm oil is leading directly to illegal deforestation and social conflicts in Indonesia. If this continues the forests in Borneo will be wiped out, together with the wildlife and people they support, whilst contributing massively to climate change."

Ritsema continued: "Biofuels are a false solution to climate change. Instead of relying on feedstock imports that create enormous environmental and social problems in other countries, the European Union must act responsibly and address climate change at home with less energy-demanding vehicles and improvements in public transport."


Read the report here

featured video: fix the food chain

by Krista Stryker — last modified Sep 24, 2009 01:05 PM

Learn about the environmental impacts of the meat and dairy industry in a film highlighting Friends of the Earth's Food Chain Campaign.

Sep 10, 2009

'Sustainable palm oil' advert false says watchdog

by PhilLee — last modified Sep 10, 2009 10:47 AM
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After a complain from Friends of the Earth International the UK advertising watchdog has ruled that claiming palm oil is "sustainably produced" is false advertising.

Logging deforestation for palm oil production. The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling followed a Friends of the Earth Europe/International complaint against an advert by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.

MPOC's statement that palm oil is the 'only product able to sustainably and efficiently meet a larger portion of the world's increasing demand for oil crop-based consumer good, foodstuffs and biofuels' was found misleading.

Also the statement that palm oil contributes to alleviation of poverty was misleading, as 'there was not a consensus of the economic impact of palm oil on local communities'.

The ASA further stated that the certification scheme of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil was 'still the subject of debate'. Therefore, making a claim that palm oil could be wholly sustainable, which cannot be substantiated, was deemed to be misleading.

Our corporate campaigner Paul de Clerck said:


'We are pleased that the ASA has ruled that palm oil cannot be qualified as sustainable. The Malaysian palm oil industry continues to lie about the negative environmental and social impacts of palm oil. The vast scale of palm oil production means that it cannot be sustainable - it destroys forests, increases carbon emissions, and forces local communities in developing countries off their land'.


Photo credit: Helen Buckland. Logging deforestation for palm oil production.

Jun 04, 2009

Jatropha: Exposing the New Threats to Africa's Agriculture

by Krista Stryker — last modified Jun 04, 2009 02:00 PM
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Friends of the Earth Ghana held an event on May 28, 2009, condemning the procurement of African lands by foreign companies for the production of the 'wonder crop' Jatropha.

jatrophaAt the recent Jatropha World Summit in Ghana government ministers and big business promoted the large scale export and production of the crop in the capital's La Palm Beach Hotel. Meanwhile in rather less salubrious surroundings a one day side event shone a critical light on the so called miracle crop.


The side event held by Friends of the Earth Ghana was called 'Jatropha: Exposing the New Threats to Africa's Agriculture' and focused on debunking the myth of Jatropha as a miracle crop as well as condemning the idea that Africa has large chunks of wasteland waiting for someone to put them to use.

Jatropha is being pushed as one of the new miracle crops for African small farmers to produce fuel and dig themselves out of poverty. The reality is that agrofuel developments are firmly controlled by Northern companies which are taking over land at an incredible pace, and are bringing about serious socio-economic and environmental impacts on our communities, food security, forests and water resources.


The side event was attended by representatives of Friends of the Earth groups from Ghana, Nigeria and Togo, as well as consumer groups, Ghanaian NGOs and the media.  Participants discussed their frustration at the acquisition of African land by foreign companies and raised the question of who decides what is marginal land and what is not. 

Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International, told the participants that he hoped the summit would cause business tycoons and government officials meeting in Accra to stop and think about their actions. 

"Africa is being so severely challenged and is routinely characterised as the sick continent of the world," he says, "it is a challenge to the peoples of Africa to rise up and resist any move that will severely impact our ability to meet our food needs, further add problems to the land tenure difficulties and further project the continent as a land that is good only for exploitation." 

"The time has come for Africa to focus on renewable energy and strive for energy sovereignty," Nnimmo says.


  • Read Friends of the Earth's report on Jatropha in Swaziland

Feb 05, 2009

featured video: the agrofuels myth

by JannekeBruil — last modified Feb 05, 2009 04:35 PM
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Can agrofuels ever be a sustainable solution for the current energy and climate crises? This video brings you the voices of communities and campaigners around the world.