Brazilian palm oil producer Agropalma has had its certificate issued by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) “temporarily suspended”, Mongabay wrote.
In place since February, the suspension followed Mongabay’s publication in December of its year-long investigation into land-grabbing in the Brazilian Amazon.
The report claimed that more than half of the 107,000ha registered by Agropalma in northern Pará state derived from fraudulent land titles and the creation of a fake land registration bureau.
Part of the area overlaps ancestral land claimed by indigenous peoples and Quilombolas – descendants of Afro-Brazilian runaway slaves – including two cemeteries, which is at the centre of a seven-year legal battle led by state prosecutors and public defenders, the 29 March report said.
Following the report’s publication, RSPO representatives contacted leaders in the Quilombolas community about the allegations and conducted audits in all affected areas, Mongabay wrote.
Shortly after that, Latin American certifier IBD Certifications suspended Agropalma’s RSPO certificate, the report said.
The RSPO secretariat confirmed the suspension in an e-mailed statement to Mongabay.
Although the RSPO and IBD had not disclosed details about the suspension of Agropalma’s certificate, they highlighted issues that would need to be corrected.
“Agropalma will be required to address the non-conformities and provide proposed corrective actions to which the IBD will further verify the implementation of agreed actions,” RSPO wrote, without disclosing which inconsistencies led to the suspension. “To lift the suspension, the non-conformities must be corrected and closed.”
In an e-mailed statement, IBD confirmed the suspension, adding that the company could appeal or “present an action plan to meet the indicators in question”. However, it declined to provide further information, claiming that “all client information is confidential”.
In an e-mailed statement, Agropalma said IBD had “temporarily suspended” the RSPO certification of its plantations in February, but it had appealed as it disagreed with the points flagged in the certifier’s report. “The assessment was inadequate, since it does not reflect the reality and the RSPO rules,” the company was quoted as saying in the statement.
However, Agropalma said the RSPO certificates for its refineries in Pará’s capital, Belém, and in Limeira in São Paulo state, “remain valid and there is no impact on the delivery of orders”, adding that “since our first certification in 2011, we have demonstrated total commitment and solid evidence of compliance with the RSPO principles and criteria”.