Friends of the Earth is taking down major players in the widely destructive palm oil industry. Following announcements that agribusiness giants Cargill and Wilmar were ending their contracts with palm oil producer Reforestadora de Palmas del Peten, S.A (REPSA), Nestlé has also cut ties with REPSA. The company cited issues with REPSA’s financial corruption, but didn’t mention its human rights violations or rampant deforestation.
Questions about REPSA emerged in 2015, when the company was linked to a massive fish die-off, and subsequent ecocide, in Guatemala. Later that year, local activist Rigoberto Lima Choc was killed after holding REPSA accountable. Lima Choc’s death and the ecocide serve as disturbing reminders of the dangers inherent in unethical palm oil production – dangers that are still present today.
We will not let the work of those risking their lives be in vain: Friends of the Earth has fought tirelessly to share these stories and campaigned for companies to divest from REPSA.
After getting Wilmar and Cargill to divest, we continued the fight. More than 40,000 Friends of the Earth members signed our petition urging Nestlé to cut ties with REPSA. And Nestlé responded.
Stories like this show the power of people speaking out and shedding light on corruption, human rights violations, and ecocide.
But there is still work to be done.
Palm oil remains a ubiquitous ingredient in food products, and REPSA could continue its unethical and destructive behavior in the future without sustained pressure. Many companies — including PepsiCo, Colgate-Palmolive, and Mondelez — still work with REPSA.
We must keep the victories coming and continue to pressure agribusinesses to cut their ties with conflict palm oil!
BlackRock, the multi-trillion dollar Wall Street asset manager, has proclaimed itself a leader in responsible investing. Yet, it remains invested in a company that backs Golden Veroleum Liberia — a palm oil company that is driving deforestation, habitat destruction and human rights violations.