The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Laurel Sutherlin, 415.246.0161

Cargill Supplier Connected to Illegal Logging; Allegations of Slave Labor


One week after Cargill announced it will begin providing US markets with palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has confirmed that Malaysian palm oil company Kuala Lumpur Kepong (KLK) supplies palm oil to Cargill. KLK was recently documented illegally logging natural rainforests on carbon rich peatlands on May 19th, violating the Indonesian government's new moratorium on logging on the very first day it was meant to take effect.

RAN has confirmed that KLK is a supplier to Cargill based on customs data that shows that Cargill imported at least 14 shipments of palm oil - totaling at least 10,000 tons - from Kepong Edible Oils (a fully owned subsidiary of KLK) between October 2008 and March 2011.

Additionally, RAN has video recorded interviews, from November of 2010, with two villagers from Northern Sumatra who recount nearly identical stories of being lured by representatives of a KLK subsidiary to work in the company's palm plantations, only to be forced into slave labor conditions for months until they could escape without being paid.

In response to the newly uncovered ties between Cargill and KLK, Lindsey Allen, forest program director for Rainforest Action Network, issued the following statement.

"This revelation that Cargill sells KLK palm oil reinforces RAN's demand that Cargill institute basic safeguards on its supply chain to ensure it is not selling palm oil tainted with slave labor to unwitting American consumers. Until Cargill commits to global safeguards that exclude egregious palm oil suppliers, it cannot guarantee to American consumers that slave labor is not ending up on store shelves and in household pantries.

"Cargill is buying its oil from companies connected to some of the very worst examples of corporate environmental destruction and human rights abuses. This is yet another of many examples RAN has identified in our three years of campaigning on Cargill that demonstrates the immediate need for the company to adopt a comprehensive palm oil policy."

Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is headquartered in San Francisco, California with offices staff in Tokyo, Japan, and Edmonton, Canada, plus thousands of volunteer scientists, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens around the world. We believe that a sustainable world can be created in our lifetime and that aggressive action must be taken immediately to leave a safe and secure world for our children.