Greenpeace Roars: Nestle, Give Orangutans a Break!

The Bali Times

Greenpeace campaigners abseiled into Nestle’s annual shareholders meeting on Thursday to urge the food giant to stop using palm oil harvested from rainforest destruction.

An AFP photographer saw the two activists break through the roof and abseil into the hall with mountaineering gear.

They hung a banner with the slogan “Nestle, Give the orangutans a break!” – in a play on a Nestle marketing slogan – and remained dangling about 20 metres above the shareholders’ heads as the meeting continued.

More activists dressed as orangutans handed out leaflets outside the assembly hall in the western city of Lausanne.

The environmental group claims Nestle is still using palm oil harvested by clearing swathes of Asian rainforests in some of the chocolate bars it makes.

“We are here today to tell Nestle to change its KitKatastrophic policies,” said Greenpeace’s International Head of Forest Campaigns, Pat Venditti, in a statement.

“We are urging shareholders to use their influence to ensure Nestle’s products are completely free from Sinar Mas palm oil and paper products,” said Venditti.

Nestle announced last month that it was dropping the Indonesian firm, the world’s largest palm oil producer, as a supplier following protests, three months after Anglo-Dutch multinational Unilever severed ties.

However, Greenpeace said on Thursday that the Swiss food group was now buying indirectly from Sinar Mas through suppliers such as US agricultural commodities giant Cargill.

Nestle chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe retorted during the meeting that the food group was cutting palm oils, and called for a moratorium on tropical deforestation.

“You know very well that it’s not Nestle’s 350,000 tonnes of palm oil that brought about deforestation in Indonesia but a political decision to use food as a source for biofuels,” he said, addressing the protestors.

Brabeck compared that amount to “500,000 tonnes of palmoil” he said was used in Britain and Germany alone for lower emissions biofuels for cars.

Brabeck explained in an open letter to Greenpeace dated April 13 that all purchasing through Sinar Mas was halted “as long as there is verifiable evidence of rainforest destruction by that company.”

“We have made it clear in writing to our suppliers of blended palm oil, including Cargill, that we will not tolerate the presence of oil from non-sustainable sources in what they sell us,” he added.

Cargill has in turn demanded that Sinar Mas respond to claims it is devastating forests rich in carbon and wildlife and sought an investigation by an industry body, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

Cargill said it expected answers from the company by the end of April.
Sinar Mas rejects claims of environmental vandalism but has been hit hard by the image conscious withdrawals by top clients.

Clearing for palm oil plantations is contributing to the rapid destruction of vast tracts of Indonesian jungle, making the country one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world.

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