Cargill Inc.'s Indonesian palm oil business is under fire from an environmental advocacy group for allegedly using practices linked to rain forest destruction.
In a report released Tuesday, the Rainforest Action Network said Cargill was operating outside of guidelines aimed at promoting sustainable development, and possibly breaking Indonesian laws protecting rain forests.
The Minnetonka-based company denied the accusations, saying it obeys all local laws and is in full compliance with sustainable development guidelines.
Palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world, and is found in everything from General Mills' breakfast bars to Kraft Foods' Oreo cookies. Cargill owns 12 palm oil refineries around the globe, and two plantations in Indonesia.
One of those plantations, in Sumatra, has been certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, a group of palm oil producers trying to ensure sustainable development. Cargill said a second plantation, in Borneo, is in the midst of getting certified by an outside auditor.
But in its report, Rainforest Action Network claims Cargill owns two other plantations in Borneo where it is clearing rain forests without using the sustainable guidelines and without proper permits.
Cargill denied such a scenario. "We do not have a set of plantations that are hidden from the public where we are doing things we would not do in public at the plantations we clearly own and operate," said Lori Johnson, a Cargill spokeswoman.