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Palm oil body promises revamp amid credibility doubts

by Reuters
Wednesday, 9 November 2016 09:00 GMT

RSPO has promised to revise its complaints system, says green group that threatened to quit body

BANGKOK, Nov 9 (Reuters) - The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an industry group that promotes environmentally sustainable cultivation of the oil, has promised to revamp its complaints system, a non-governmental group said on Wednesday.

Aidenvironment, an Amsterdam-based green group, had threatened to quit the RSPO over its frustration with the group's poor handling of complaint against major palm producer IOI Group.

In March, the RSPO withdrew its "sustainability certification" from IOI, based on a decision to uphold a complaint from Aidenvironment.

The RSPO revoked the suspension four months later.

The RSPO, IOI and Aidenvironment met on Tuesday during an industry roundtable in Bangkok to discuss the RSPO's handling of the complaint, Eric Wakker, senior consultant at Aidenvironment Asia, told Reuters on Wednesday. The roundtable will continue through Thursday.

The RSPO showed a commitment to make structural changes and promised to revise its complaints system, said Wakker.

"They are going to launch a revised complaint system and it will be up for public consultation," he said, adding that Aidenvironment has decided not to cut ties with the RSPO.

"I have to wait to see how that translates to practice and actual changes," said Wakker.

Reuters was unable to reach a representative of the RSPO for comment.

Palm oil, which is used in everything from cosmetics to food products, has drawn criticism from environmentalists for years for weak enforcement standards and for the industry's devastation of rainforests.

The RSPO -- a body of palm producers, activist groups and consumer companies that provides sustainability certificates for the industry -- was formally established in 2004.

IOI group became a founding member of the RSPO in 2004.

(Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Christian Schmollinger)

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