In 2014, we saw a major increase in the number of companies committing to de-forestation free products and the trend is continuing this year. Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM), one of the world’s largest suppliers and processors of agricultural products in the world has committed to buying only sustainably-sourced palm oil and soy.
Soy and palm oil are two of the biggest agricultural products linked to deforestation, particularly in tropical regions of South America and Southeast Asia. As global demand for these products has been on the rise, tropical forests are covered for agricultural use. This not only results in shrinking habitat for many species, but also in major greenhouse gas emissions.
ADM is listed by the Forest 500 as one of the 250 most important companies that can stop deforestation. However, ADM is neither a signatory of the New York Declaration on Forests nor a member of the Consumer Goods Forum, two means by which many major players in the forest commodities trade have pledged to end deforestation.
According to a publicly released document, ADM is committing to no palm oil from deforested areas or peatlands and asks its suppliers to comply by the end of 2015. To improve the sustainability of its soy supply chains, the company has agreed to begin mapping supplier farms against forests and peatlands, and to create a more traceable supply chain.
Although ADM for the most part does not own soy or palm plantations, multinational commodity traders are particularly well-positioned to push better environmental policies through the supply chain. A report from Supply Change, a project by Forest Trends which is working to track the implementation of corporate deforestation commitments, found that companies like ADM have influence on both manufacturers and producers.
The announcement follows a request from the State of New York, which through its New York State Common Retirement Fund is a a shareholder in ADM. Nathanael Johnson at Grist reports that a number of environmental organizations, including The National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Forest Heros and the Natural Resources Defense Council, also asked the company to make commitments to getting products associated with deforestation out of its supply chain.