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Major food brands linked to deforestation – again

A palm oil supplier to Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever is destroying rainforests in Papua, Indonesia, according to Greenpeace International.

Photos and videos taken in March and April 2018 show “massive deforestation” in PT MJR, a palm oil concession controlled by the Hayel Saeed Anam Group (HSA), including in an area zoned for protection by the Indonesian government in response to the devastating forest fires in 2015.

Satellite analysis suggests that around 4,000ha of rainforest were cleared in PT Megakarya Jaya Raya concession between May 2015 and April 2017 – an area almost half the size of Paris.

The findings come as a delegation from the Indonesian government arrives in Europe to defend the palm oil industry, in response to moves by European Parliament to discourage the use of palm oil in biofuels on environmental grounds.

In April, frozen food retailer Iceland announced that it will stop using palm oil in all its own label food by the end of the year. “Until Iceland can guarantee palm oil is not causing rainforest destruction, we are simply saying ‘no to palm oil’,” said Richard Walker, the supermarket’s managing director.

Greenpeace said its latest investigation “raises serious questions” for the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Many HSA Group palm oil companies are members of the RSPO.

“Brands have been talking about cleaning up their palm oil for over a decade. Companies like Unilever and Nestlé claim to be industry leaders. So why are they still buying from forest destroyers like the HSA group? What are their customers supposed to think? What will it take to get them to act?” said Greenpeace UK forests campaigner Richard George.

The brands named in Greenpeace’s report told the Telegraph that they were investigating the allegations.