The palm oil producer Wilmar was targeted by activists of the German environmental group Robin Wood, asking to end to the utilization of palm oil obtained through land grabbing and rainforest destruction. The activists stormed in the company's plant of Brake (Germany, Lower Saxony), calling for an immediate cessation of the expansion of palm oil plantations and a resolution of land conflicts in favor of local peoples.

The newly expanded plant in Brake provides predominantly food manufacturers with industrial fats and oils, most importantly palm oil. Palm oil's role in the food service industry is booming. It is considered an inexpensive resource and can be found today in almost one in every two supermarket products, from margarine to pre-packaged soup and ice cream. The consequences are devastating: rainforest deforestation, land grabbing, dispossession, and climate damage.

One of the largest profiteers of this dirty business is Wilmar. The market-listed Wilmar Group, based in Singapore, is the largest palm oil dealer in the world. Wilmar operates extensive palm oil monocultures and in Indonesia alone manages plantations extending over 180,000 hectares of formerly rainforested land. In October 2010 the Indonesian environmental organization "Save Our Borneo" caught Wilmar red-handed, when they clear cut rainforest in Central Kalimantan.

Wilmar is involved in countless land conflicts with local peoples. "During our research trip through Sumatra and Central Kalimantan in 2009 and 2011, we spoke to Wilmar's victims on location and experienced the squalor that the palm oil industry has plunged them into," relates Peter Gerhardt, rainforest campaigner for Robin Wood. "We demand an expansion stop from Wilmar. Furthermore, the multinational palm oil giant must immediately return contested lands to the local peoples from whom they were stolen." 

To date the company seems only to react to massive public criticism. Robin Wood, together with other environmental organizations, called attention to the reprehensible actions of Wilmar security forces who violently attacked the village Sungai Beruang in Sumatra in August 2011. Only after repeated bad publicity through various protests - including against Wilmar's largest customer Unilever - and several dialogues did Wilmar begin to budge. Mediated proceedings are currently taking place on location and the aggrieved local peoples are hoping for good results.

Wilmar is writing new pages in its annals of destruction in Africa. In 2012, Friends of the Earth documented widespread land grabbing by Wilmar; palm oil plantations are planned for these areas as well ( Here Wilmar has managed to secure 10,000 hectares with the help of the African investor BIDICO.

In public Wilmar attempts to wash themselves green and distract from their exploitive practices by pointing to their participation in the certification initiative RSPO (Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil). However, the RSPO is dominated by the palm oil industry itself, allowing rainforest deforestation for new plantations and the usage of extremely toxic broad-spectrum herbicides such as Paraquat. "The RSPO leads consumers to believe that sustainable palm oil exists and therefore directly promotes human and environmental exploitation," stresses Peter Gerhardt.

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