Thursday, 17 September 2009

Sinar Mas

Watched a programme on the palm oil industry last night. Can't really believe how short-sighted some corporations are. A smiling executive from Sinar Mas calmly explained how the rainforests in Indonesia are 'unproductive' and they were cleverly and systematically cultivating them with palm oil plantations instead. It wasn't the job of Sinar Mas, he stated, to worry about CO2 emissions causing global warming, they were providing a valuable resource for the people of Indonesia. Millions of hectares of prime rainforest are being slashed and burnt every year.

Cut to the indigenous people in these areas who are now forced to trek miles to beg permission from nearby farmers to dig for roots. These same local people are supposed to own the forests, but are powerless to stop the loggers coming in and raping their land. Unsurprisingly the police are paid better by Sinar Mas than they are by the state and little serious action is taken to protect their rights. Apparently all Sinar Mas have to do to receive permission for new plantations is prove that an area of rainforest is not productive (which in this case means not cultivated). The production of oxygen, fixing of CO2, provision of natural habitats for wildlife and protection of biodiversity are seemingly not covered under this description.

And palm oil? Alarmingly common in many of the products we put in our shopping baskets every week, it's often listed as vegetable oil. It's cheap and versatile and yet costs the earth!

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