Allegations widen against Indonesian palm oil giant Astra Agro Lestari

Allegations widen against Indonesian palm oil giant Astra Agro Lestari

JAKARTA — Allegations of illegal activity and land-grabbing against Indonesia’s second-largest palm oil company continue to mount as a new report reveals the firm’s violations appear to be more extensive than initially documented. The report alleges that subsidiaries of PT Astra Agro Lestari (AAL) are cultivating oil palms illegally inside forest areas; intimidating and criminalizing local community members; and operating without the required permits. The report by Friends of the Earth U.S. and its Indonesian and Dutch counterparts, Walhi and Milieudefensie, respectively, is a follow-up to a previous report issued in 2022. That earlier report looked at three AAL subsidiaries operating on the island of Sulawesi and found them to be engaging in land grabbing, environmental degradation, and the criminal persecution of environmental and human rights defenders. The new report expands the scope by analyzing all of AAL’s known subsidiaries, whose operations span across Indonesia. It found more alleged violations, including operating plantations without permits and within areas that should be off-limits under Indonesian law. On the back of the 2022 allegations of environmental and human rights violations, at least 10 consumer brands suspended their sourcing of palm oil from AAL, with the latest to do so being U.S. food giant Kellogg’s. The cereal maker joined the likes of Hershey’s, PepsiCo and Oreo maker Mondelēz in distancing itself from AAL. In addition to backlash from buyers, AAL also faces pressure from shareholders and financiers. In February, the Norwegian state pension fund cut ties with AAL’s parent companies, Singapore-based Jardine Matheson…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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