Asia: BBC documentary reveals the increasing problem with palm oil


Orphaned orangutans by andy bingham

Orphaned orangutans are the refugees of the palm oil industry. © Andy Bingham

Last night the BBC's Panorama programme threw fresh light on the growing palm oil crisis in Asia. The undercover film crew, led by reporter Raphael Rowe, discovered evidence of palm oil companies deforesting and planting plantations on protected areas.

The evidence uncovered by the BBC unit was instrumental in Unilever's decision to suspend their contracts with, one of their largest palm oil suppliers, Sinar Mas in December. This action followed on from tireless campaigning by Greenpeace about the company who are not only involved in widespread illegal deforestation but also the clearing of carbon-rich peatlands, which make Indonesia one of the world's biggest carbon emitters.

Seemingly this isn't the end to Unilever's sanctions. They've also reportedly dropped Duta Palma in response to the BBC's investigations. Both PT Smart - the subsidary of Sinar Mas dropped by Unilever - and Duta Palma are both members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) placing the spotlight firmly on the fledgling initiative to clean up the palm oil supply chain. However, this is no easy nut for the RSPO to crack. Palm oil permeates our weekly shop, normally labelled as vegetable oil, as ingredients in everything from cosmetics to chocolate.

Watch BBC's Dying for a Biscuit
Download Greenpeace report: Illegal forest clearance and RSPO greenwash: Case studies of Sinar Mas

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