CES Is Not The Only Organization Critical Of Archer Daniels Midland – They can be so wrong in so many ways


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Forests burn in Indonesia to make way for palm oil plantations.
Forests burn in Indonesia to make way for palm oil plantations.
© Greenpeace / Daniel Beltrá

First the good news: burning ‘biodiesel’ fuels emits less global warming pollution than burning standard, oil-based gasoline.

Now the bad news: producing biofuels creates tons of global warming pollution – easily enough to offset any global warming benefits gained at the tail end of the process.

At least that’s the case when it comes to Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and its business partners that manufacture and trade in Indonesian palm oil.

ADM is an agribusiness giant, and they’re a big player in the biodiesel business. A large part of the business relies on clearing Indonesia’s woodsy wetlands, or “peatlands,” to create palm plantations. The result? A whole lot of palm oil and a whole lot of resulting global warming pollution.

A 2007 Greenpeace report found that clearing, draining and setting fire to Indonesian peatlands emits 1.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year. That’s about four percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Roughly half of Indonesia’s peatlands have already been destroyed, helping Indonesia achieve a dubious ranking as the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind only China and the United States.[1]

But if this palm oil can be used instead of standard gasoline to fuel our cars, isn’t it worth it? Sadly no. Not by a long shot. According to Rainforest Action Network, “Producing palm oil, one of the most popular sources of biodiesel, entails so much deforestation that, over its lifecycle, palm-based biodiesel can emit up to ten times more carbon dioxide per gallon than gasoline.”[2]

ADM and its partners’ rampant destruction of Indonesian peatlands also threatens the existence of endangered species like the orangutan; a close relative of ours that scientists say could be wiped out by 2012 .[3]

Corporate welfare and greenwashing
ADM is a major player when it comes to influence in Washington, DC. Indeed, one of ADM’s largest supporters is the American taxpayer; the biofuels behemoth rakes in massive tax credits to subsidize its ethanol sales.[4]

Meanwhile, ADM is bending over backwards to present itself to the public as a friend of the environment. ADM’s company slogan is “Resourceful by Nature”, and its website extols its efforts to “develop nature-based alternatives to the world’s finite stores of fossil fuels.” Unfortunately, one of its alternatives is destroying an ecosystem and accelerating global warming.

Corporate snapshot
Founded in 1902 and incorporated in 1923, the Decatur, IL-headquartered ADM is one of the world’s largest processors of agricultural crops and a “world leader” in biodiesel fuels. [5]

According to Greenpeace, “global commodity traders including ADM-Kuok-Wilmar (ADM’s business alliance operating in Indonesia), Cargill, Golden Hope and Sinar Mas have commanding control over the entire palm oil supply chain – from plantations in Indonesia to refined vegetable oil or biofuel [processing facilities]. The alliance brings together Wilmar, the ‘largest palm biodiesel manufacturer in the world’, and ADM, the ‘world leader in renewable transport fuels’.
The ADM-Kuok-Wilmar alliance have ‘rapid expansion plans’ in relation to biodiesel. Between early 2006 and mid-2007, the ADM-Kuok-Wilmar alliance gained control of more than 1.4 million acres of peatland.[6]


There is a whole lot more. Please read the entire article and see who ADM pals around with in the rest of the Corporate Hall of Shame.

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