Government and Non-Government Organisations with Interests that Conflict with the Natural Environment


 

UK Agricultural Supply Trade Association (UKASTRA)

UKASTA is the leading association for the agricultural supply trade. UKASTA is the voice of the agricultural supply industry, working with farming and manufacturing partners to ensure food safety. UKASTA's 350 members include multi-national organisations, family firms, partnerships, other small businesses and farm-owned cooperatives. The combined annual turnover of members is approximately £5 billion. Members gain many benefits, including privileged information in times of crisis. Merchants sell their products to farmers, producing about 90% of UK animal feed and representing 80% of UK certified seed trade. The combined annual turnover is £5 billion. UKASTA recognises the complex interaction between agriculture and the environment but believes that too many decisions are based on public and political views rather than scientific facts. Decisions made should aim to address real environmental concerns as well as safeguarding UK agriculture. As a result of the BSE crisis consumers wanted to know exactly where their food was coming from so UKASTA developed two assurance schemes, UFAS and TASCC. The former assures supermarkets, and the latter puts stringent standards on transport and storage. Despite the ban on using gelatine products in any food products, UKASTA claimed that vital ingredients used in animal feeds potentially contained gelatine and continued to use them. Concerns have also been raised over the animal feed industry and its involvement with GM crops, since over 50% of genetically modified crops grown around the world goes into animal feed. UKASTA's PR company, Mistral, claims that it is impossible to guarantee GM free animal feed. UKASTA has claimed that GM crops will bring significant benefits to consumers and play an important role in meeting the increasing demand for efficiently produced food. Many environmental groups (with public support) say feed manufacturers should cooperate to eliminate GM ingredients from their products. In response, UKASTA set up the 'SCIMAC' code of practice, which develops plans for the carefully managed and monitored introduction of GM crops. UKASTA has a variety of future aims and objectives in its annual report and is currently contributing to a European Parliament debate on issues that will affect the food industry in the UK.

 

Asia pulp and paper (APP)

One of the largest pulp and paper businesses in the world, established in the late 1980s in Indonesia by several Indonesian business groups. It produces bleached hardwood pulp and a wide range of paper and packaging products. The mills of several of APP's subsidiaries have received ISO 14001 for Environmental Management System (EMS), a certification that states a commitment to continual environmental monitoring and improvement by the certified company. This applies to plantation forestry only, however, whereas most of APP's paper derives from primary forest. The activities of pulp and paper companies in Indonesia have serious impacts on primary forests, and conflict directly with the needs and rights of indigenous communities. The production process employs significant quantities of chemicals in pulping and bleaching as well as large amounts of fossil fuel energy and fresh water. APP has come under scrutiny by Indonesian environmental groups such as Walhi who have anticipated the mass destruction of Indonesia's rain-forests. They claim the company is oversized and led by greed. The largest of APP's mills is Indah Kiat which has been responsible for 287,000 ha of deforestation, 85% of which involved clear-cutting of the forest.. Some 3000 ha of clear-cutting was home to the Sakai indigenous people, causing social conflict between the Sakai and employees of Arara Abadi (an associated company of APP). About three-quarters of Indonesia's logging is estimated to be done illegally. It is thought that 72% of Indonesia's rain-forest has already been destroyed and the World Bank estimates that there will be no rain-forest left in Indonesia by 2020. The destruction of Indonesia's rain-forests will cause a huge drop in world biodiversity. Indonesia is one of the countries with the highest biodiversity in the world, being home to over 10% each of the world's bird, reptile, amphibian mammal and flowering plant species. This diversity is threatened by forest fires as well as clear-cutting. The fires were particularly bad in 1997-98, and 80% were started by plantation companies. APP is distorting the global paper market by offering paper products at low cost, undercutting most of their competitors. It has been financed in this operation by large financial institutions by as much as $17.5 billion through bondholders, shareholders and loans. Barclay's bank and NatWest are two contributors. APP is now falling into debt, and in order to raise funds, they are falsely inflating the cost of running their projects in order to secure large loans. Aware of bad press about APP, their paper products have been infiltrating the UK market hidden by an ISO14007 certification, and being sold under different brand names.

 

AstraZeneca

One of the top five largest pharmaceutical company in the world, this British company joined forces with Novatis in November 2000 to create Syngenta, the world's largest agribusiness company concerned with crop protection and seeds. It annually invests $2.5 billion in pharmaceutical research and development, and is active in more than 100 countries world-wide. It currently employs over 50,000 people and provides many graduate opportunities. AstraZeneca produces and develops pharmaceuticals devoted to treating diseases such as cancers, hypertension, and schizophrenia. The company states that it has a commitment to the environment. It has a 'conservation of resources' project running in Indonesia, and is involved with a bush regeneration project in Australia. Confidence in the company's commitment to the environment is not encouraged by its development of 1.6 million square feet of office on a green-field site in Delaware, using state incentives of $18.7 million, when a brown-field site of disused land was available nearby (The News Journal). The company is also less eco-friendly in other more fundamental respects. Along with Novartis, Syngenta has been the subject of public debate concerning the development of genetically modified seeds. The most contentious biotchnology is the production of 'Terminator seeds', by Syngenta as well as Novartis, which are genetically modified to grow plants that themselves produce infertile seeds. Farmers must then buy patented seed each year at an increased cost, particularly to poorer farmers who rely on saved seed as their primary seed source. Research by ActionAid, a charity that studies and supports farmers in the worlds poorest nations, shows that farmers have always saved seed, and 1.4 billion people still rely on saved seed as their primary seed source. AstraZeneca has written to ActionAid, stating: "Zeneca has no interest in trying to change farmers' traditional practice of saving seed, and in fact we decided in 1993 not to develop and bring to market any system which would prevent farmers from doing this. We have no intention of revising this decision". But there are doubts over its spirit of commitment since AstraZeneca has taken a 20% share holding in EXseed which has a Terminator patent.

 

Aurul SA

A venture set up to process waste (tailings) from the mining industry to extract gold and silver. The venture is jointly owned by the Australian mining company Esmeralda Exploration Limited and the Romanian state-owned company Remin SA. The project site is in Baia Mare, Romania, near to the rivers Tisza and Danube. Originally the venture was to last 10-12 years, and planned to extract 1.6 tonnes of gold and 9 tonnes of silver per year. The Australian side of the company stand to make large sums of money whilst the Romanians are given employment (Aural employs 150 people in an area with relatively high unemployment.) and have their contaminated waste ponds removed. These ponds have been holding up development of cities. The process of removing the metals from the waste involves "washing" the tailings in large concentrations of Cyanide. On 30th January 2000, some 100 tons sodium cyanide along with other heavy metals accidentally released when a tailings dam failed after high rainfall and snow-melt caused an overflow that washed away the top of the dam. The contaminated water flowed into the Lapus Stream and then travelled into the Tisza and Danube rivers resulting in the death of 200 tons of fish, the river's plankton and many otters. It also poisoned Hungarian drinking water. Cyanide prevents oxygen uptake by cells and fish are particularly susceptible to this. The spill also affected villages when any exploitation of the river was stopped including using it as drinking water. Conservation organisations were outraged and on March 22 2000 Greenpeace formed a protest and closed off the entrance to the Aurul SA mining site. They rallied for the site's closure but were unsuccessful as operations started again on 13 June 2000 after permission was gained from the Romanian government. A UNEP report on the spill stated that the facility had been wrongly classified by Romanian authorities as needing no special monitoring or contingency plans. Aural SA was partly cleared of liability in a report by the report, because the spill occurred in an already heavily polluted area and the company had adhered to safety regulations set up by the region. However, the UNEP report did also say that prosecution had mainly been prevented by lack of scientific evidence. Although the spill occurred during flooding and bad weather it is thought that it would not have happened if the equipment used by Aural had been a better standard.

 

Aventis Pharmaceuticals

One of the newest and largest life-science companies, formed in December 1999 by the merger of Germany's Hoechst with Rhone-Poulenc of France. Aventis has annual sales of £11 billion (18 billion Euros), and employs 90,000 people in 120 countries round the world. The company's subsidiary Aventis Cropscience produces genetically modified crops. The GM corn contains protein-producing bacteria that kill a corn borer, but the corn is suspected of triggering allergic reactions in some people. The Centre for Disease Control has said there is no evidence for this suspicion. Aventis Cropscience's GM corn has the trademark name StarLink, which had been approved for use in animal feed in the US but not for human consumption. In 2000, traces of the GM corn turned up in food for human consumption in the US, causing Aventis to be voted one of the 10 worst corporations of 2000 by CorpWatch. Aventis was accused of failing to uphold principle 7 of the Global Compact, which had stemmed from the Rio Declaration, which Aventis had signed in July 2000. In the US, StarLink illegally contaminated food supplies and seed stocks, even though it was grown in less than 1% of cornfields. The pollen had flown over 1 km out of the buffer zone, and contaminated the 2001 stocks, which ended in damage costing hundreds of billions of dollars. Advocacy groups of Aventis had not fully informed the farmers of the risks associated with the GM corn seed, and failed to recall all of the infected corn, in violation of UN principles. Aventis have held trails in the UK as well, some without the knowledge of the public. They would like to grow GM corn commercially in this country, and were the first to file for a growing application. If successful, they would hold more field trails than anyone else in this country.

 

Balfour Beatty

A UK based construction company with international building operations, building management and services, civil and specialist engineering, rail engineering and services and investments and developments. It employs over 20,000 people and generates a yearly turnover of more than £2 billion. The company has a stated commitment to recognising and respecting the natural environment, considering environmental impacts at each stage of development, and training its employees in environmental matters. The company's work on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link won a "Quality in Construction Award" for the high level of environmental protection. This follows from the company being fined a record £1.2 million in 1999 over health and safety breaches during its construction of a new rail link to Heathrow airport, and its naming in the Environment Agency's list of top 20 polluting companies. The company's particular interest in dam construction has caused concern amongst NGOs. Many of its projects comprise actions that threaten biodiversity, as with the Pergau dam, where large areas of Malaysian rain-forest were destroyed. Its Cardiff Bay barrage, flooding 1.5 km of tidal mud-flats was criticised for its impact on migratory shore birds. Balfour Beatty's proposal to build the Ilisu dam in Turkey was withdrawn in November 2001. It would have submerged hundreds of Kurdish villages and an internationally important archaeological site. Because the dam would straddle the Tigris river upstream of Iraq, it would also be a source of conflict over access to water. The company is one of the largest constructors of roads in the UK, which contribute to habitat fragmentation and destruction.

 

Bayer

Bayer is an international Health Care and Chemicals Group based in Germany, with interests in health care, agriculture, polymers and chemicals. It has about 117,300 employers. It develops drugs, vaccines and diagnostic tools against diseases and is particularly strong in research for medicine against incurable disease. It produces Ciprofloxacin (Cipro), currently the best treatment for anthrax. Bayer's environmental policy states a commitment to protection of habitats and biodiversity. This is achieved by development of technologies to reduce water pollution, by using recycling of products to minimise environmental impact of its wastes, and by developing environmentally friendly products. The company sponsors conservation projects, e.g. protection of migratory birds in Australia. As a Founder Member of the Global Compact initiative set up by the UN, Bayer seeks improved environmental protection, protection of human rights and labour standards. By 2010 Bayer plans to reduce the toxicity of pesticides, and its emissions of Greenhouse gases by 50%. Inadequate customer information about side-effects of Bayer products has left the company susceptible to public and legal attack. Bayer were threatened with criminal charges in Brazil after environment protection agencies alleged serious health damage and numerous deaths due to exposure to the Bayer pesticide product Baysiston used on coffee plantations. Bayer's formulation of the pesticide methyl parathion ('Folidol') has caused deaths in Peru when it was mistakenly consumed by children, and poisoning in Cambodia. Bayer pesticides have caused environmental problems in the Philippines. Bayer is also incinerating PCB's and land-filling waste at the Bayer facility in Nova Iguaçu, Rio de Janeiro, causing metal and organic pollution. Along with other companies Bayer has been responsible for dumping toxic pesticides in Nepal, threatening both human health and biodiversity. be found here.

 

Boliden Limited

This Canadian-Swedish based mining company operates underground and open pit mines, with three in Sweden, one in Spain and one in Canada. The company extracts mainly copper, gold, silver, zinc and lead. It has two smelting plants and produces products such as copper tubes. Boliden Ltd currently employs about 4500 people. It is involved in projects to recycle waste, including the plastic from lead batteries. In April 1998 the toxic waste from Boliden's Spanish mine burst from its holding tank, releasing four billion litres of waste into the wetlands of the Doñona National Park in Spain. This caused massive fish kills and poisoning of birds and animals. Boliden Ltd agreed to pay for the clean up and reimburse farmers for the crops that were lost. Nevertheless, a year after the accident, toxic waste was still leaking from the dam. Three years on Boliden Ltd in October 2001, the company withdrew from Doñona National Park without properly closing down its mine, sacking 425 workers and not restoring the environment, which was damaged when the dam burst. On the 19 November 2001 Boliden Ltd was acquitted by the Seville courts of all charges regarding the disaster, which was blamed on geological studies prior to construction of the mine.

 

BPAmoco

The world's second largest oil company, behind ExxonMobil. Formed in 1998 by the merger of BP and Amoco. With an annual revenue of $120 billion, and 100,000 employees in over 100 countries, it produces 3 million barrels of oil per day, and its 28,000 service stations world-wide make it bigger than McDonald's. Its large contribution to the economic market provides a basis of social benefits. The company has production activities in 23 countries, ranging from exploration of crude oil and natural gas, to the production and marketing of petrochemicals. The company provides energy for production industries and transportation, and is involved in the development of more sustainable energy sources. In July 2000 BPAmoco re-launched itself with a 'Beyond Petroleum' slogan. It has since committed to invest $50 million in converting 200 service stations to solar power, and $48 million in supplying 150 Philippine villages with solar power. This will make it one of the largest users of solar power in the world, with a 20% market share. BPAmoco is a major sponsor of the UN Clean Air campaign. It aims to reduce its 1990 emissions by 10% before 2010, and has commissioned an independent progress audit, the first of its kind in the industry. The company has its own conservation programme, which recognises the need to protect biodiversity and habitats. This programme is run in partnership with Bird Life International and fauna and flora international. Other partnerships have also been set up with the U.S. Nature conservancy, Wildlife Habitat Council and Earthwatch. However, in line with America's aim to decrease its dependence on foreign oil, the Bush administration and oil companies - including BP Amoco - wish to carry out drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This has met with concerted opposition from public interest groups, who claim that drilling will devastate this fragile ecosystem. In December 2000 BPAmoco were attacked by human rights groups for investing in an oil pipeline across ethnic Tibetan land, displacing ethnic Tibetans from their homeland. BPAmoco have been found guilty of many breaches of pollution laws that have resulted in fines totalling hundreds of millions of dollars. Between January 1997 and March 1998 they were responsible for 104 oil spills in the American Arctic alone. In 1999 it was ordered to pay $1 million in damages for polluting a Kansas City community after the pollutant leaked under houses rendering them worthless.

 

Brazilian Federal Republic - Republica Federativa do Brazil

The Brazilian Government divides into 26 states, each of which has its own local government. The Ministry of Environment has several polices to protect the ecosystems within its boundaries. In September 2000 the Brazilian Institute for Environment and Renewable Resources (IBAMA) valued its environmental worth at US $2.072 trillion. Brazil was the first country to put a monetary value on its biodiversity, and hopes to use the figure to protect its environment. Brazil's Pilot Programme to Protect the Tropical Forests of Brazil (PPG7) has spent more than US $240 million on more than 400 environmental projects. Despite these protective polices, several environmental issues have been neglected, particularly deforestation in the Amazon, pollution in Rio de Jeneiro and Sau Paulo, and land degradation and water pollution caused by mining. Brazil contains one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet: the Amazon rain-forest. One acre of rain-forest can contain 235 tree species supporting a further 235 insect species and numerous other plant and animal species. Between 1978 and 1996 over 200,000 miles of Amazonian rain-forest was destroyed for logging, farming and industrialisation. Only in the last 5 years, has the government created laws to protect certain plant species, such as Mahogany, in an attempt to stop deforestation. However, these laws have had little effect and from August 1999 to August 2000 deforestation increased by 15%, much of it involving illegal logging on the estimated 20% of the Amazon region held illegally by private owners. Forest fires are also a major environmental problem, in March 1998 the Brazilian Government refused the help of the United Nations to tackle these fires and as a result 3.3 million hectares of forest were destroyed. The government has failed to stop or even slow the rate of deforestation. In 1970 1% of the forest had been destroyed compared to 15% in 2000. Deforestation in 1999-2000 was at its greatest rate since 1995, with removal of an area of 19,386 km2. This was mostly to make way for roads and agriculture. The Brazilian government has been accused of allowing pollution of rivers from artisanal mining of gold mines with mercury, and encouraging road-building projects in the Amazon which fragment the forest.

 

British Government in Office

The UK is governed by elected representatives who are accountable to parliament for all decisions and proposed legislation. The Government acts to regulate society, administer public services & represent British citizens within Europe and the International community. As of April 2001 there were 482,700 permanent civil servants serving within government institutions. The present Labour Government states that it is committed to the concept of sustainable development and the preservation of biodiversity, most notably under the aegis of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), which was formed in June 2001 from the previous regulatory bodies of MAFF and DETR. The DEFRA identifies its first objective as: "to protect and improve the rural, urban, marine and global environment and conserve and enhance biodiversity...". The DEFRA has implemented the Wildlife & Countryside Directorate, sponsoring non-departmental public bodies such including The Countryside Agency, English Nature, and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to protect & enhance both UK & international biodiversity. The Government, through the DEFRA, also sponsors the Environment Agency which carries out a wide range of legal duties related to integrated environmental management including water resources, quality and conservation, pollution prevention and control and waste management. However, despite a substantial framework for environmental protection, the present Government has been often criticised for failing to meet the public's environmental agenda. It took until October 2000 for Prime Minister Tony Blair to give his first speech on the environment since coming to power in 1997. Some of the many issues of contention include: transport of nuclear material in ships not tested under accident/incident conditions, therefore risking long term contamination; settling for 10% of energy from renewable sources by 2010 despite lobbying from the Commons Environment Committee and NGOs for a 20% target; backing of the rapid development of GM organisms; the possibility that the UK will fail to meet its commitment to a 12.5% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from 1990 levels by 2010 as agreed in the Kyoto Protocol.

 

British Nuclear Fuels

British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) is a state-owned company that has expanded in the last four years to operate in 15 countries world-wide. It manufactures nuclear fuel, provides reactor services, generates electricity, and manages spent nuclear fuel. It currently holds 12% of the worlds nuclear market, creating an annual turnover of £2 billion and employing some 23,000 people. It has a programme of community involvement covering economic regeneration, education, charitable donations and sponsorship. It claims to consider that protection of the environment is an important issue and its Thorp Management Centre at its Sellafield plant in Wales was awarded the BIFM Green Award in 1997. Nuclear power provides a carbon free alternative to burning fossil fuels, and in this respect can help to reduce green house gas emissions and the potentially harmful effects of global warming. However Friends of the Earth point out that renewable energy can also provide these benefits without the risk of nuclear accidents or production of genetically damaging radiation and dangerous nuclear waste. In 2000 BNFL was found to have falsified key safety data resulting in increased accident risk. BNFL's reliability came under further scrutiny when they admitted to sending Japan a shipment of falsely assured nuclear fuel pellets (plutonium). The falsification of documents presents a risk to the Japanese community and to the many highly bio-diverse islands en-route. In March 1998 Greenpeace released data showing that pigeons near BNFL's Sellafield plant were highly contaminated and therefore an environmental hazard. Sellafield has had nearly 1000 nuclear disasters in its 44-year history, contributing to making the Irish Sea into the most radioactively polluted sea in the world. Nine million litres per day of Nuclear waste from Sellafield is estimated to be released into the sea resulting in the radioactive contamination of marine ecosystems. A twelve-mile stretch of public beach was closed for six months due to dangerous radioactivity, and "significant levels" of contamination from Sellafield have now extended as far as the Arctic and Canadian shorelines. In October of this year the government gave the go ahead for the opening of the controversial MOX plant at BNFL's Sellafield plant. This has been criticised by Greenpeace and FOE as not economically viable and a potential threat to the environment. BNFL has also been damned by the government's Environmental Agency for its lack of commitment to the environment and has been accused of releasing cancer-causing krypton 85 gas despite a 20-year ban. Concern has grown over the American subsidiary, BNFL Inc, since it established a Plutonium crushing and incineration site in Idaho. The neighbouring Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks consider themselves at risk from mutations induced by nuclear contamination. In Tennessee, attempts were made by BNFL Inc to promote environmentally friendly tactics, but public health concerns forced the rejection of their radioactive-waste recycling scheme.

 

Cargill

An international marketer, processor and distributor of agricultural food, finance and industrial products. Cargill is essentially a commodities broker for food stuffs (wheat, soybeans, oilseeds etc), and the world's largest privately owned corporations, with 90,000 employees in 57 countries and earnings of $900 million in 1996. Being privately owned, it has few requirements to disclose financial information. The company's environmental policy states an objective to make efficiency savings through reductions in energy consumption by 10% and reductions in waste production by 30%, before the year 2005 from a 1999-2000 baseline. The company is aiming to reduce to zero the number of fines or penalties greater than $25,000 as a result of environmental, safety or transpiration activities. Much of the Company's activities, however, occur in less developed countries where regulations on emission and pollution are more relaxed. Cargill is the largest handler of grain in the world, and as such it controls about a quarter of all grain production. It's monopoly of the grain trade gives it unprecedented control over the supply of grain and particularly of gm grain, of which Cargill is an enthusiastic advocate. In February 2000, Greenpeace halted a ship bringing 60,000 tons of gm soya into Britain. Greenpeace argued that the soya was destined to get into the human food chain, against Cargill's claim that it was solely for animal feed. Earlier in the same month Brazil had turned away a shipment of maize being brought in by Cargill after finding out that it contained gm grain. These actions followed shortly after an international agreement to allow countries to restrict imports of gm foods. Cargill is a major producer of palm oil and has huge oil palm plantations in Indonesia, in areas that once supported natural rain forest and many rare species.

 

ChevronTexaco

The fourth largest oil and gas producer with daily production of 2.7 million barrels. It employs a workforce of 53,000 people in 180 countries. Texaco has funded an artificial reef project to encourage biodiversity around its offshore natural gas platform on the Colombian/Northern Caribbean coast. Chevron's pipeline in Papua New Guinea is the first commercial production in this country has been installed in consultation with the WWF. Texaco was the pioneer company of oil exploitation in the Amazon forest. Texaco was responsible for damaging rain-forest and local communities in Ecuadorian Amazon, until it ceased operations there in 1992. At the height of its operation, Texaco dumped more than 3000 gallons of crude oil into the Amazon and left more than 600 open waste pits contaminated with heavy metals and other carcinogenic hydrocarbon compounds. The Ecuadorian Indians have filed a $1.5 billion law suit against Texaco for damages to the environment incurred during the years that Texaco was responsible for oil production. As well as direct damages, Extensive logging to clear the way for roads and other infrastructures for exploration has caused a major lose of habitat and biodiversity over the last 100 years. At the beginning of the 20th Century, Texaco's exploitation of timber in Colombia paved the way for intensive cattle ranching with associated fragmentation and loss of wildlife habitats. Corridors were cut through the forest for pipelines, which led to colonisation and further destruction of the forest. In February 1996 the Sea Empress grounded on rocks at the entrance to Milford Haven, S. Wales, spilling 72,000 tonnes of Texaco's North Sea oil onto some of the UK's most protected coastlines. This was a larger spill than Exxon's Valdez in 1989. Texaco was thought to be running low in oil stocks in the Milford refinery and so put pressure on the port authority to bring the ship in immediately whatever the tide. Oil is a primary source of carbon dioxide which is a major greenhouse gas. Some 122 corporations account for 80% of all carbon dioxide emissions, just five global oil corporations, including Chevron Texaco produce oil that contributes 10% of the worlds carbon emissions.

 

Energy Resources of Australia (ERA)

ERA is the world's third largest Uranium producer, selling both uranium oxide and uranium compounds to nuclear energy utilities world-wide. ERA is publicly owned, with Rio Tinto as the largest shareholder, owning 68%, and effectively its parent company. ERA's environment policy is committed to the principles of 'Code 2000', promising to integrate environmental considerations into policy-making, open accountability, and compliance with statutory requirements. ERA has nevertheless been responsible for numerous environmental breeches. ERA runs the Ranger uranium mine occupying 6 km2 in the 20,000 km2 Kakadu National Park in the Northern territory of Australia, causing concern amongst conservationists. High uranium concentrations have been detected in the water systems of the National Park, emanating from the mine, and there have also been diesel spillage and releases of contaminated water. The kakadu region is also listed as one of UNESCO's 25 world heritage sites. The park is home to 21 of Australia's 29 mangrove species, over 900 plant species, 1/3 of Australia's bird species, over 100 species of amphibians and reptiles and an estimated 10,000 species of insects. The Ranger mine employs 215 permanent staff and 15 contractors and to date has made $3.8 billion. ERA is currently mining its third pit, although this will empty soon. ERA has a second mine site, Jabiluka 22.5km north of the Ranger, which is charged with nitrate leakages. The proposal to develop Jabiluka was subject to an inquiry. It stated that there were several areas of concern and that conditions such as rainfall had not been adequately taken into account. ERA experienced a leak of 2000 m3 of waste, some of which reached the wetlands. The mines are built on Aboriginal ancestral lands, and there have been accusations that Aboriginal people are subjected to irradiation poisoning by pollution of their waterways.

 

Esso

The European branch of ExxonMobil. Esso is one of the largest petrol retailers in the UK, with over 1500 sites employing approximately 2800 people. Esso's profits were approximately £12 billion in 2000. Esso's environmental policy states a commitment to environmental protection and the broader integration of environmental and economic priorities, in all aspects of its business. More than $6 million has been committed over five years for conservation projects. The company has been involved in restoration of Fawley salt-marsh in Southampton water. Esso UK has special interests in conservation of tigers (the company logo). One of the main threats to the tiger, however, could turn out to be loss of habitat due to stresses caused by climate change. Esso supports environmental deregulation. Its policy on climate change reiterates that of its parent company ExxonMobil in stating that "science is not able to confirm that fossil fuel use has led to any significant global warming". In contrast, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that Earth's climate has changed... "with some of these changes attributable to human activities". Esso lobbied to have this sentence deleted, although the amendment was rejected. These views on climate change led to an NGO-organised boycott of UK Esso stations until it changes its position on the Kyoto Protocol. Esso are also directly affecting the environment with current exploratory projects such as those in Chad, which encourage third world debt. Unlike Shell and BP, Esso refuses to invest in alternative energy sources. It claims to be developing fuel cell vehicles, but these are only cleaner than petrol if the hydrogen source comes from renewable sources.

 

ExxonMobil

ExxonMobil is the world's largest oil and petrochemical company, and the 8th largest company in the world. It employs about 80,000 people in more than 100 countries. The organisation operates coal mines in the United States, South America and Australia, as well as a copper mine in Chile. Some 67 million gallons of oil and 6.3 billion cubic feet of gas are produced daily and 65 million gallons of motor fuel is sold to over 8 million customers every day by this enormous organisation. In the early 1990's Exxon rededicated it's efforts and resources to improve environmental performance world-wide. The primary product of this was the Operations Integrity Management System (OIMS), which requires ongoing evaluation and improvement of management systems and standards. The company's environmental policy states a commitment to conducting business in a manner that is compatible with the environmental and economic needs of the communities in which the company operates. ExxonMobil has been a corporate partner of 'American Forestation' since 1995, committing them to planting over two million trees in the USA, Germany and Siberia. However, ExxonMobil has taken a public stance critical of the science of climate change and has lobbied to reject the Kyoto Treaty. It has made donations of more than $1million to the Bush campaign which has refused to sign up to the Kyoto Treaty. Exxon's concerns are that adopting the Kyoto Protocol will impose significant economic costs on society and do economic harm by reducing fuel availability to consumers and excluding developing countries, but other motives may be that adopting the Kyoto Protocol could entail enormous transfer of wealth to other countries. The company has large-scale operations in Nigeria, where it has been accused of human rights abuses. In 1998 the company spilt 40,000 barrels of crude oil into rivers and farmland in the Akwa Ibom State. A recent suit against ExxonMobil accuses the company of complicity in abuses committed by State Security forces that protected its natural gas fields in Aceh, Indonesia. The Plaintiffs claimed ExxonMobil had subjected them to genocide, murder, torture, and crimes against humanity, sexual violence, and kidnapping. ExxonMobil is part of an oil consortium promoting a controversial pipeline in Chad/Cameroon that has raised human rights issues in both countries and has much potential for biodiversity loss. Exxon was the owner of the Exxon Valdez, which grounded in 1989 in Prince William Sound, polluting more than 1600 km of Alaskan wilderness shoreline for a period of at least 10 years.

 

Glaxosmithkline (GSK)

A pharmaceutical company formed in December 2000 from a merger of GlaxoWellcome, SmithKline and Beecham. The conglomerate aims to "improve the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer". GSK employs over 100,000 people and produces approximately 7% of the pharmaceutical products sold world-wide. In 2000, GSK received £18.1 billion culminating in a profit before tax of £5 billion. GSK claims to spend more than £277,000 every hour in search of new medicines and to donate more than £55 million each year in cash and products to communities around the world. The high costs of medicines due to patents held by pharmaceutical companies including GSK have become a major complaint in developing countries. In 2001, 39 pharmaceutical companies started proceedings to sue the South African government in order to prevent it importing affordably medicines for treatment of AIDS, but they eventually backed down in response to public outrage. GlaxoSmithKline argue that initiatives to reduce prices on HIV-related drugs and a donation programme for malaria medicines have been largely ignored. The company fears that competition in developing countries will generate pressure for lower prices in other countries. Bioprospecting (the exploration of wild plants and animals for commercially valuable resources) has raised doubts about whether developing countries will receive adequate compensation from drug companies such as GSK for offering their natural resources and knowledge. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity 1992 specifically gives countries the right to own their genetic resources. Extracta is a Brazilian company that carries out bioprospecting in Brazil, and it signed a deal with GlaxoSmithKline in 1999. However there are now worries that Brazil itself will see little return, amounting to a form of biopiracy by GSK. GSK has a weak environment, health and safety policy referring vaguely to their commitment to continuous improvement of the environment, and to "operate our business in an environmentally and socially responsible manner".

 

Gulf Power

An electricity company providing power to 71 settlements in North-West Florida, USA, totalling 362,070 customers. It owns three power plants and shares three others, all burning coal except for some natural gas in two of the stations. It employs 1,415 workers, and is in turn owned by Southern Company, North America's largest electricity provider. It's net income for 2000 was $51.8 million. It emphasises the good economic climate of Florida, and claims to give outstanding quality to it's customers, defined by low prices. One must ask though how it achieves these low prices? Gulf Power proclaims a number of environmental projects, including "cleaner coal", tree planting, "clean commuting", electric transport, lake stewardship, public education, recycling and wildlife conservation. It claims to have 400 dedicated environmental personnel, although presumably these must divide their efforts amongst all the above projects and sub-projects, as well as general station cleanliness. Despite these efforts Gulf Power and Southern Company have come under considerable criticism from various quarters. The Legal Environment Assistance Foundation published a 1999 "Polluter Profile" of Gulf Power, showing it's dangerous emissions for that year. This prompted a letter to the U.S. Export-Import Bank from Jon Sohn, an International Policy Analyst for Friends Of The Earth concerning Gulf Power. In April and May, 2001, a campaign called Clean Up Southern Company produced two reports: Southern Company: Abuse Of Power and Southern Company: A Giant Among Polluters, both citing Gulf Power amongst other subsidiaries. The general feeling of these reports was that Gulf power and it's parent were spending more money on appearing environmentally friendly than actually being environmentally friendly. Finally an article by Scott Streater appeared in The Pensacola News Journal in August 2001, about how Gulf Power may be forced to spend more on cleaner stations.

 

Harken Energy

Harken Energy is a gas exploration and production company based in Texas, which explores and develops large hydrocarbon deposits in source-rich geological environments. It currently has rights to 9 million acres of land in Latin America. US President George Bush is a former consultant and member of the Board of Directors. Harken Energy does not appear to have an environmental policy, preferring to hire environmental consulting firms to correct any problems. Spokesmen have stated that the policy of the company is to immediately address any leaks found, and work with state authorities to correct them. Between 1986 and 1992 environmentally hazardous gasoline and petroleum leaked from at least 6 Harken storage tanks in Florida. Spokesmen confirmed that the tanks were drained when the spills were discovered, but records show that Harken was slow to clean up the chemicals and in some cases did nothing. One of the worst spills recorded was in Plantation Key, where 3 tanks spilled benzene and other toxins at levels dangerous to marine life into the groundwater less than 1000 feet from the Atlantic ocean. Recent plans by the company to drill for oil and natural gas off Costa Rica faced a legal challenge from the indigenous people in the Supreme Court. Harken's environmental impact assessment failed to detail potential impacts of oil leaks on local biodiversity. The proposed drilling site is five miles off the coastline in one of the richest coastal ecosystems in the world in a region referred to as the cradle of the Caribbean's sea turtle populations, all species of which are listed as endangered. Up to now the National Resources Defence Council and more than 800 biologists and conservationists have helped to keep the Supreme Court from ruling in favour of Harken.

 

Imperial Chemical Industries plc (ICI)

Established in the U.K in 1926, ICI is a multinational conglomerate of companies manufacturing paints, acrylics, and industrial chemicals. ICI incorporates some 200 companies in 55 countries. The corporation employs 45,130 people to manufacture products such as starches and paints (e.g. Dulux) and industrial chemicals such as refrigerants and adhesives. ICI's turnover was £8,449 million, with a £376 million profit before tax, in 2000. ICI has a range of environmental policies: reducing waste, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, avoiding land contamination and researching renewable resources. Independent verification of environmental policies is carried out by Enviros Aspinwall to ensure impartiality. Environmental targets are set on a 5-year basis, and ICI awards company directors across the group to encourage targets to be met. A number of case studies highlight aspects of efforts to meet their environmental goals including reduction in emissions of hormones and grants for environmental improvement initiatives. These are few however, considering the range and scope of the company. The very nature of the company puts it at odds with environmental conservation groups. ICI produces Alkyl-phenols, Hydrofluorocarbons and chlorinated paraffins in PVC, which Greenpeace want banned from dumping and production. ICI is also the largest producer of the toxic pesticide 'Lindane', which bioaccumulates and may affect biodiversity of non-target organisms. ICI is criticised for 'Greenwash' over production of 'Paraquat' a toxic herbicide. Despite claiming high standards, ICI is criticised on a number of pollution issues, specifically the state of it's plants such as Runcorn in the U.K and the large number of leaks and spills that result in environmental damage, for example at the site of the 2000 Olympics in Sidney and at an ex-ICI landfill in Cheshire. The company alerted residents to the gas seepage from their landfill and into homes in January 2001, and the local health authority advised residents to leave their homes. There is a suspected connection between this leak and higher than average levels of kidney dysfunction in the area. In 1999, the U.K Environment Agency placed ICI at the top of it's 'Hall of Shame' of environmentally damaging companies, following accidental releases of chemicals into the atmosphere and water systems. In the same year, ICI was accused of being the largest UK producer of CFC and Cancer causing dioxin. In February 1999 hydrochloric acid from ICI's Tioxide plant on the Tees Estuary contaminated an internationally designated marshland for migrating birds. Discharges of alkyphenols are known to feminize male fish. In April 2001 ENDS reported an unauthorised release of approximately 250 tonnes of benzene rich petroleum fraction, from a former ICI plant resulting in the hospitalisation of 17 people. An EA spokesman described the site as being 'a typical ICI site which had not much spent on it', this is hardly due to a lack of finance, given ICI's annual turnover.

 

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Set up in 1945, the IMF has 183 member countries and employs 2500 staff from 133 countries. It was created to provide temporary financial assistance to countries unable to meet their financial obligations. This year, the IMF has credit and loans outstanding to 90 countries totalling about $65 billion. In addition to its regular loan services, the IMF also has concessions for struggling countries under its Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) and debt relief under its Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC). The IMF has done much to alleviate poverty in the poorest countries, having recognised the problem that poverty poses for the global economy. Friends of the Earth claim however, that loans are often "conditioned", leaving the government with no choice but to overhaul its economy, for example by reducing export taxes. Unfortunately for biodiversity, this leads to mass exploitation of natural resources. A loan to Cameroon in 1988 from the IMF after an oil crisis, led to intensive logging of tropical forests containing mahogany and ebony trees along with 9,000 plant species, 150 of which are endemic. Loss of habitat has also left elephants, gorillas and the Black Rhino threatened with extinction. A similar story can be seen in many other countries under IMF adjustment programs such as Brazil, Thailand and Indonesia. However, incentives are offered to countries that can pay back loans ahead of time by not charging interest (e.g. Korea). The IMF is addressing environmental problems by becoming more transparent and accountable. It has also just set up its first independent evaluation office. However it mainly shifts long-term environmental responsibility to others, claiming its mandate only covers short-term stabilisation, unless the problems bear on economic stability and sustainable growth.

 

Japanese Government in Office

Japan's response to the Convention on Biological Diversity is set out in its 'National Strategy on Biological Diversity': to monitor present status of biological diversity, to develop basic policies for conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, and to develop conservation measures and effective implementation of strategy. Japan is currently hunting the Minke whale, despite concerns about population levels. Japan is exploiting a loophole in the law that allows the hunting of 440 whales per year for scientific reasons. After catching the whales, Japan sells the meat commercially. Japan has admitted using overseas aid to secure support for lifting the 1986 world-wide ban on commercial whaling Japan is also lobbying to have the international ban on whale products lifted. However this stance could change as whaling is losing public support amongst the Japanese public, with only 10 percent in favour and many citing concerns over the levels of toxins found in whale meat. Japan's whale hunting is in line with its own National Strategy for biological diversity, which allows for 200,000 whales to be removed from the population of Balaenoptera acutrostrata over 100 years. After incidents involving illegal tuna fishing and plutonium shipments, Japan has a poor image in the media when it comes to environmental issues.

 

Lafarge Redland Aggregates

Lafarge Redland is the major UK division of Lafarge, a world leader in construction materials employing over 85,000 people in 75 countries around the world. The fourth largest producer of quarried products in the UK, it supplies 10% of demand in the industry. It employs over 1800 people at 250 sites across Britain. For more than 80 years it has produced quarry products such as aggregates,(rock, sand & gravel) and materials such as concrete, asphalt, concrete products and recycled materials. Lafarge also processes minerals for use in other industries, such as pharmaceuticals, plastics, and food products. Quarrying operations are intrinsically damaging to biodiversity. However, Lafarge has an extensive environmental policy that goes some way to conserve these areas and to lessen the impact they have on the environment. Tony Plant, recycling manager for Lafarge claims that "sustainable development is at the heart of Lafarge's philosophy". Lafarge's environmental policy includes developing products that are safer and more efficient, reusing valuable resources such as water, recycling construction materials, and using alternative modes of transport such as rail and canal. Lafarge has also converted a 250-acre old sand and gravel quarry into a nature reserve and this programme has had the support of David Bellamy with the launch of the brochure "From Working Quarry to Wildlife Haven". However, Lafarge Redland has recently been under pressure to drop plans for the development of Lingerbay superquarry in Harris. At 10 million tonnes of output per annum over a 60-year period, the proposed quarry at Lingerbay will be 50 times larger than a conventional large British quarry, and could leave a crater 2-km long and 1-km wide. Recently the area around the proposed site of the quarry has been put forward as a potential special area of conservation (SAC), Europe's highest conservation status. After a recent partnership agreement with WWF, the Director of Friends of the Earth, Kevin Dunion has spoken out to urge the WWF to advise Lafarge not to go ahead with its "destructive and unnecessary plans" and to "prove its green credentials". Lafarge justified the environmental damage by claiming that the quarry would help the local economy, providing jobs and increased investment to the area. After the longest ever public enquiry, the proposal was rejected in November 2000, and it was decided that the scenic quality of the area was more important than the economic and social benefits. However, Lafarge made a fresh bid for the superquarry with a new public enquiry in November 2001.

 

McDonald's

The largest global retailer of food services. It serves 45 million people every day in 29,000 restaurants in 121 countries. At the end of 2000 there were 28707 restaurants in 120 countries, employing 1.5 million people and catering for more than 16.5 billion visits which generated sales of over US$40 billion. In December 2001, McDonald's will be using the RSPCA's Freedom Food logo on cartons of egg products to promise high standards of animal welfare. This development follows the 1997 libel trial brought by McDonald's against two environmental protesters, at which McDonald's was accused of, and found to be culpably responsible for, cruel practices in the rearing and slaughter of some animals. The company is reportedly still using battery chickens for some of its products. McDonald's is one of the world's largest users of beef, some of which was claimed to have been reared on recently deforested land, although this claim was not upheld in court. Evidence that McDonalds themselves are not entirely up to date with current environmental issues is illustrated by the fact that they appear proud of the fact that their UK fish supply is from North Atlantic cod (in the Food Facts section of the UK official website). This is despite the collapse of the stock last year. McDonald's supports charitable work to improve the health and well-being of children, although it has also been found guilty of paying its workers low wages and illegally employing children.

 

Monsanto

Developer and manufacturer of biotechnology products for agriculture, health care, and nutrition, founded in 1901 by Jon Queeny. It is a subsidiary of Pharmacia and a provider of agricultural solutions to help farmers improve their productivity and produce better quality foods. It makes crop protection products (the herbicide 'Roundup' is its most profitable product), genetically modified crops and bovine growth hormones. Monsanto employs 30,000 people world-wide and is the biggest seller of GM crops in the world, with net sales of $5.5 billion in 1999. The company's statement of environmental responsibility claims that Monsanto strives for 'abundant food and a healthy environment,' along with helping people to understand their concerns about agricultural biotechnology. Monsanto is however a large corporation committed to making money for its shareholders. In the past it has produced PCBs and Agent Orange; it is still producing pesticides that contaminate ground water. More recently, Monsanto has been criticised for its production of 'Roundup Ready' crops (particularly soybean). The crop is genetically engineered to tolerate Monsanto's own herbicide, Roundup. Farmers are therefore wholly dependent on Monsanto. It is debatable whether the resulting crop has any advantages over organic alternatives, but Monsanto has an aggressive marketing strategy for its GM products, particularly in Africa. The company also requires that farmers sign an agreement stipulating that they will not save their Roundup Ready seed from one year to use the next, and actively pursues lawsuits against transgressing farmers. Monsanto has patented its Technology Protection System (commonly referred to as the "terminator gene"), which is a new genetic technology designed to render the seeds of crops sterile. It therefore to prevents farmers from saving seeds, instead forcing them to buy seeds from Monsanto each season to grow their crops. If this sterility gene jumped species this technology could have disastrous effects for the environment. However, in 1999 the company decided not to commercialise the gene, in response to world-wide opposition to its plans. POSILAC bovine somatotrophin is a hormone made by Monsanto that increases milk production in cattle. It has however been criticised because over-milking cattle leads to complications such mastitis. It has also been suggested that the POSILAC milk produced is carcinogenic. The UK is experiencing a ground-swell of public opinion against genetically modified crops. There use may lead to a decrease in biodiversity, an increase in the use of pesticides, more cases of pesticide resistance, more corporate control over seeds, a decrease in the effectiveness of natural pesticides and worse conditions for the world's farmers. Transgenic crops could spread genetic pollution and upset the balance of nature. Not enough is known about the long-term implications of genetic modification to warrant its every day use in our society. In 1985 the Pesticide Action network named Monsanto's insecticide 'Parathion' as one of a dozen dirty pesticides around the world - claims were made that it may be responsible for 80 percent of poisonings in the surrounding areas in which it was used in Central America. Along with this the herbicide Butachalor has never been permanently approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the herbicide Lasso has been called 'a probable carcinogen'. DNA from GM varieties of maize produced by Monsanto has become incorporated into wild varieties of maize growing 100 km away. This means that genes from gm crops may unintentionally threaten the diversity of native wild maize.

 

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. (MSDW)

A global financial services firm with about 50,000 employees in 24 countries. It provides a wide range of services to major corporations, financial institutions, governments, and individuals of high net worth. The firm has a total capital of $40 billion. Environmental groups have questioned whether the firm takes seriously the social and environmental implications of its business activities. In 1999 MSDW underwrote more than $6 million of securities for the China Development Bank which is the lead lender to the corporation building the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River. This dam will displace 1.2 million people from their homes and destroy habitat of endangered animals such as the Yangtze dolphin. The campaign against MSDW was designed to highlight the lack of accountability at many major financial institutions. The company has now told shareholders that it will 'commit to dialogue' over its underwriting of controversial projects. In 2000, MSDW contributed to underwriting PetroChina, which plans to build pipelines for extracting oil and gas from Tibet for use in China, thereby consolidating Chinese control over Tibet. MSDW is also the primary owner and manager in a proposed development of the Ballona wetlands, an estuary on the Los Angeles coast of unique value to migratory birds. MSDW has been the leading US financier of Asia Pulp and Paper, which is responsible for deforestation in Indonesia.

 

Novartis

A global biotechnology company formed from the merger in 1996 of Ciba and Sandoz, two Swiss based companies, and employing about 67,600 people world-wide. It produces a range of products from prescription medicines to genetically modified crops. Animal research is minimal, and there are ongoing efforts to reduce further the use of animals in research. Such organisations can encourage biodiversity conservation by developing plant-based drugs. Novartis invests heavily in genetic engineering, with potential impacts on biodiversity and human health. Its agribusiness division develops GM crops, which can boost incomes and reduce use of environmentally damaging pesticides and herbicides, but farmers may become dependent on products such as 'terminator seeds'. The company's environmental protection policy states a commitment to monitoring and reducing chemical emissions, but makes no mention of genes in the environment. Its genetically modified 'Bt maize' has been banned in a number of countries (including France). The fear is that DNA from such gm crops may get into wild plants, with consequent threats to wildlife, including the Green Lacewing and the Monarch Butterfly (following a study by Cornell University). Bt maize also contains genes that reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics such as penicillin. Novartis is developing a GM crop with a gene that disables the immune system ('traitor' technology) with potentially severe impacts on non-target plants. Although Novartis is one of the world's leading producers of gm seeds, since 2000 it has phased out gm ingredients from its food products.

 

Occidental Petroleum Corporation

A U.S. based multinational with world-wide interests in oil and gas exploration and production, and manufacture of chemicals such as chlorine and petrochemicals. Occidental employs a multinational, multiethnic workforce of about 8,800 world-wide. The company's health, environmental and safety policy states that environmental protection is good for community and good business, and that the world's natural resources should be conserved and developed wisely. It has built schools, medical clinics and day-care centres in remote rural areas near to a number of international operations. However, Occidental petroleum was held responsible for the 1978 Love Canal disaster in the Niagara Falls region of New York, in which soil toxicity caused the death of much of the wildlife living in the area. Occidental have also been accused of responsibility for leaching of Dioxin, into the Niagara river from its Hyde Park Boulevard chemical dump. Occidental's Cano Limo pipeline has spilled an estimated 1.7 million barrels of crude oil into nearby soil, rivers and lakes since its completion in 1986. Oil is seen as a major threat and target to guerrilla groups, and many of the spillages from the Cano Limon pipeline are attributable to it being bombed over 700 times in the last 12years. Studies of lakes near the facilities found pollution levels equivalent to the dumping of 5.5 barrels crude oil/day. Lipa Lake, on which Occidental and its associates built an oil exploitation installation, is considered a sanctuary and spiritual and cultural centre. The company contributes to deforestation by clear-felling for oil exploration and by colonising areas around the road systems created for oil facilities. It also contributing to climatic change. Occidental has been involved in a controversial drilling exploration project in Northeast Colombia, in sacred ancestral land of the U'Wa peoples. Despite the non-violent campaign of the U'Wa, in which many were killed by security forces, the project was only stopped after the $66 million operation failed to produce oil. Occidental currently has a project for a pipeline in Ecuador north of Quito which crosses Mindo-Nambillo ecological reserve. This reserve incorporates three distinct ecosystems, and is home to 450 species of birds and 370 species of wild orchids.

 

Premier Oil

A multinational company employing 750 people mainly in London, Islamabad, Yangon and Jakarta, with operations focused on North Sea oil and gas fields in Asia. Its net profit after tax for the year 2000 was £6.1 million most of which was reinvested into exploration and development of old and new projects. Premier's environmental policy includes a commitment to sustainable development. It is involved in restoration of the Myanmar Inlay lake. All its development projects include an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). It also use BPEO (Best Practical Environmental Option) and BATNEEC (Best Available Technology Not Entailing Excessive Cost) management systems for its projects. Recent preparations by Premier Oil to explore for gas in the Kirthar, the oldest National Park in Pakistan, have raised concerns about the effectiveness of this company's environmental policy. The park is one of Pakistan's largest protected areas, stretching over 3,087 square kilometres of rugged mountain desert in the southern province of Sindh. It is home to numerous threatened species such as the unique Sindh ibex and the Urial sheep. Desert wolves, striped hyena, golden jackal and eight species of eagle are also present in the park. It is also considered essential for the water supply of the 14 million people in nearby Karachi. However, under the current military regime, it appears that key Government officials can amend legislation without reference to parliament. In June 2001, the Governor of the Sindh province amended the relevant wildlife law so that it would not apply to those exploring for oil or gas so long as this was undertaken in accordance with an environmental impact assessment (EIA). Premier Oil duly submitted its plans in the form of an EIA enabling it to go ahead with explorations, which threaten the endangered wildlife living in the park. Local NGOs quickly challenged this in the Karachi courts. Counsel for the petitioning environmental groups argued that, either way, the amendment didn't affect the main plea made by the petitioners: the cancellation of Premier's license to explore gas from Kirthar National Park. The court adjourned the matter, which is still unresolved. While working on a pipeline in Burma the company's guidelines on employment were put into question when allegations were made about the use of forced labour under a military controlled government. UK ministers wanted Premier Oil to withdraw from its petroleum interests to pressurise the countries repressive military junta to stop the practice, but the company still continues with its work in Burma.

 

Rio Tinto

The largest private mining company in the world, operating over 60 mines and processing plants in 40 countries, with its headquarters located in London. Rio Tinto is the direct employer of 51,000 people, with six main areas of interest: aluminium, diamonds and gold, copper, energy (coal and uranium), industrial minerals and iron ore. Rio Tinto participates in a number of international projects on biodiversity and conservation. These include the Plants For Life partnership formed in 2000 with the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, a fellowship programme for research together with Birdlife International, and a partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature in Australia focusing on habitat restoration. Rio Tinto is also part of the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development program as well as initiating a biodiversity strategy in line with the Convention on Biological Diversity. Rio Tinto has signed up to the UN's Global Compact initiative. Historically Rio Tinto has a poor record on environmental issues and support for apartheid in South Africa. In the 1960s uranium mines in Australia's Rum Jungle released thousands of tons of heavy metals and tailings into local rivers. Rio Tinto's Capper Pass tin smelter near Hull exposed workers and their families to carcinogenic materials over many years, until it ceased operations in 1991. The company has now admitted negligence and liability. Rio Tinto's PT Kelian gold mine in Indonesia has been reported for environmental abuses which violate the principles laid out in Global Compact. The company uses a cyanide heap-leaching process that produces contaminated tailings, and these are then cleaned in local ponds thereby polluting the ponds and the surrounding waterways. In 1996, 40 million tonnes of toxic tailings were dumped by the company into the Otomona-Ajkaw river system in Grasberg, West Papua. Rain-forest in this area has also been cleared for a network of roads and a mine town, largely because only 4% of the employees at the mine are locals. Rio Tinto were proposing to mine in the Kakadu National Park of Australia, but pulled out in June 2001, in response to community protests.

 

Roche

A pharmaceuticals giant, Roche employs more than 60,000 people world-wide and has been active in the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of novel healthcare solutions for more than 100 years. However, these medicinal innovations come at a cost, and in some instances this is to the environment. between 1961 and 1976, Roche dumped highly toxic chemical waste into a clay pit in Bonfol, Switzerland, contaminating the local water table and supplies of drinking water to nearby France. Roche's use of incinerators for toxic chemicals has sparked fears of local pollution at some installation sites, including County Clare in Ireland. Roche are aware of the problems that they can potentially cause to the environment, and have set up a network of eco-delegates to assist in the promotion of environmental awareness in its divisions. Nevertheless, it continues to emit toxic chemicals into the air, most recently at its Belvedere plant in New Jersey, prompting a $1.9 million fine and enforcement to monitor the air around the plant.

 

Rockefeller Foundation

Founded in 1913, the Rockefeller Foundation is a non-profit based research body comprising leading scientists and scholars. It works with other independent scientist and organisations, across the world, in pooling their knowledge and resources. The Foundation's goal is to work towards solutions to socio-economic problems and suffering of the poor in the developing world. This is done by funding four main themes: Creativity and Culture, Food Security, Health Equity and Working Communities. A number of programs are also being developed to improve communications for excluded individuals and provide capacity for better law enforcement to sustain long-term aid programs. One of the ways that could help solve the hunger and health problems of the poor is to produce crops that are insect resistant, drought tolerant and nutrient enhanced 'Golden Rice'. The Foundation sees the potential of agricultural biotechnology as a viable alternative to traditional plant breeding. Its approval of transgenic crops re-enforces the ethos of big biotechnology corporations, such as Monsanto. It has resulted in the Foundation being implicated in several campaigns against GM crop growing, by Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, UK amongst others The threat to the environment will be further exacerbated should there be another failure in what has been termed another "Double Green Revolution". The Foundation takes these ecological concerns into consideration but believes that the fears are premature. It agrees there are risks, which needs to be fully assessed through careful, controlled experiments on GM crop fields. The UK government (DEFRA) has endorsed this. The Foundation relies on its renowned reputation to attract most of its funding from the private sector, international aid organisations and the US national, state and provincial governments.

 

Royal Dutch / Shell Group of Companies

The largest of the oil and gas corporations, with a workforce of more than 100,000 staff and providing a significant contribution to the world economy. The group has an environmental policy, through which it claims to have a commitment to sustainable development and to conserving biodiversity so that it can deliver energy in a clean, socially responsible way.. Shell Australia is a corporate partner to EarthWatch field research. The 'Shell Better Britain Campaign' suggests ways of improving wildlife (with the odd caveat that these suggestions are not necessarily those of Shell!). The company is expanding into solar panels, it belong to the Emissions Trading Association and in 2000 the Company Chairman launched the Business Action for Sustainable Development, a new environmental initiative. The company had a representative in the Taimyr biodiversity project, and their Camisea Project in Peru's lower Amazon involved scientists and developers working together in consultation with NGOs to site a new gas plant where it was likely to have the least effect on biodiversity. However, Shell has been fined $40 million for an oil spill in Ogoniland (Nigeria) in 1970 which Shell still disclaims responsibility for and hasn't cleaned up, leaving crude oil 5 m deep killing marine flora and fauna and polluting groundwater. Some 40% of Shell's oil spills occur in the Niger delta, with over 300 sites of spillage in Ogoniland alone over the last 30 years, displaying gross negligence on the part of Shell. Vast amounts of oil are extracted here, yet locally there is a lack of roads, piped water, steady electricity and functional hospitals. Shell has devastated the environment of the Niger delta, and the Shell refinery in Curacao, requires environmental restoration in order to comply with the Convention on Biological Diversity. Shell was absent from the Bonn "E-mission" press conference which discussed the effect of the private sector on biodiversity. During the debate about disposal of the Brent Spar oil rig, Shell ran adverts to improve their image as a green company. Shell has been responsible for emissions of chemical pollutants such as dioxins into Rotterdam Harbour. In March 2000, Greenpeace temporarily bought 500,000 Dutch guilders' worth of Shell shares in order to have a sufficient stake in the company for the period of one shareholders meeting to force the company into a commitment to build a large-scale solar panel factory. Rotterdam Harbour.

 

Sainsbury's

Chain store retailer of food products (Sainsbury's supermarkets Ltd), and of house and garden products (Homebase Ltd and Shaw's Supermarkets), and bank (Sainsbury's bank plc). The group's turnover in 2001 was £18.4 billion, and it employed some 169,900 people in Britain making it the second largest food retailer. Its environment policy states a commitment to fair trade and socially responsible sourcing of foods. It collaborates with charities such as Oxfam to agree standards for third-world suppliers. In 1997 it won a Corporate Conscience Award for asking its suppliers to implement Integrated Crop Management Strategies (ICMS). Sainbury's was also the world's first supermarket to stock seafood from 'Marine Stewardship Council' (MSC) certified fisheries, and it is a retailer of 'Forest Stewardship Products' (FSC). These schemes aim to ensure that suppliers are aware of the impacts of their farming methods on biodiversity and act to reduce these effects, however the actual numbers of suppliers which adhere to them is low. Just over 8% of food suppliers are engaged in ICM, MSC or FSC and only 1% of wood and paper product suppliers are under the guidance of the FSC. As a chain-store retailer, Sainsbury's exerts much influence over agricultural production and consumption patterns. Sainsbury's has collaborated with the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group in supporting the formation of Farm Biodiversity Action Plans (FmBAPs) intended to reduce the environmental impact of intensive farming. One of the strengths of Sainsbury's, as of any supermarket chain, is its potential for reaching a large spectrum of the population with environmental or other campaigns. Conflicting with this benefit is the need to cut profit margins. Much of the controversy surrounding Sainsbury's, is its involvement in the debate about genetically modified (gm) crops. Along with most UK supermarkets, Sainsbury's has removed gm ingredients from its own label foods since 1999. However, Sainsbury's still uses meat that is fed on gm crops, and invests heavily in researching gm foods. Lord Sainsbury owns a £1 billion share-holding in his family's supermarket chain, whose profits are set to soar if GM food is allowed to reach its potential. Like all supermarket chains, Sainsbury's does little to encourage consumption of freshly picked, locally grown food. It contributes to pollution and global warming by requiring seasonal food products to be available year-round, even if this means importing them from the southern hemisphere.

 

TotalFinaElf

TotalFina and ElfAquitaine merged in 2000 creating the 14th largest company in the world, and the world's fourth largest oil company operating in more than 100 countries world-wide. It is active across the energy industry, in exploration and development of reserves, shipping, trading, refining, petrochemicals production and oil product marketing. Atofina is a division of TotalFinaElf that specialises in chemical production. The net income of the TotalFinaElf was Euros7,637 million in 2000. The company employs 150,000 people world-wide with 45% of the employment based in France. The company's environmental policy states a commitment to conducting it's operations in a manner to ensure that impacts on the environment are reduced to "as low a level as is reasonably practicable." Its Total Corporation Foundation, set-up in 1992, aims to safeguard biodiversity and secondly promote public awareness of biodiversity. In France it invests in seed banks for threatened native plants. World-wide it funds various biodiversity enhancement projects in Oman, Indonesia, Thailand, Polynesia, South Africa, Mauritania, France and the UK. TotalFinaElf is part of consortium that supports research on carbon sequestration for reducing greenhouse emissions. Opposition to TotalFinaElf has been met at the environmental level from environmental groups such as Greenpeace. At an international Greens conference in the Canberra (April 2001), delegates voted unanimously to back a grassroots campaign against oil firms such as ExxonMobil and TotalFinaElf. The Erika oil spillage occurred off the coast of Brittany (France) in December 1999 loosing 15,000 tonnes of TotalFinaElf oil into the sea and killing thousands of seabirds. The WWF has called for a number of investigative procedures to be carried out concerning this incident. The clean up operation has been scrutinised by environmental organisations for its disorganisation and the methods adopted by TotalFinaElf concerning environmental damage. On a multinational scale TotalFinaElf has been accused a being one of the key companies that influenced the Bush administration to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol which could have led to the USA's commitment to reducing global CO2 levels. Elf is combining with ExxonMobil and Shell to develop a pipeline from oil fields in Chad to the Atlantic coast in Cameroon, through areas of great political instability. TotalFinaElf is also causing controversy by building a new $200 million pipeline which runs through the Karen Homelands in Burma. The pipeline runs through the largest block of intact rain-forests in SE Asia, and is listed as one of the 24 "hotspots" of global biodiversity. Gas exploration and production produces large quantities of toxic wastes and atmospheric emissions, yet no independent Environmental Impact Assessments have been conducted or subjected to public scrutiny.

 

US Government In Office

The government of the United States of America is made up of an executive branch and a legislative branch, to represent the views of the people of America through democratic elections. The government's environmental policy is decided by the representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency. In a speech made recently on Earth Day, President Bush stated that America has a vibrant and flourishing environment and renewed his commitment to "protect the environment and ... clean water, [and] clean air". To carry out this environmental policy out the US government finances many projects, for instance $900 million was given to the Land and Water Conservation Fund and $4.9 billion is being used over 5 years for the upkeep of the national parks. The United States has now pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, which was signed but never ratified by former President Bill Clinton, with Republican President George W. Bush claiming it would hurt US jobs. This retraction has been criticised because the USA produces about 25% of all the global warming gasses released each year even though it has only 4% of the world's population. The US government argues that its forest can be used as a "Carbon Sink" to soak up released gases. The US government has also given permission for oil drilling to occur in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. President Bush has stated that he supports the building of new oil and gas pipelines to promote America's refining capabilities. The US government is using the current energy shortage as an argument for more use of fossil fuels instead of increased efficiency and sustainable solutions. Many see the policy as a direct result of pressure by big oil companies such as Esso. As a result, a campaign has been launched by NGOs to boycott all the Esso filling stations in the UK.

 

World Bank

The World Bank, founded in 1944, is owned by 183 countries and employs about 10,000 staff. It is one of the world's largest sources of development assistance, working in more than 100 developing economies. Its stated mission is to improve the lives of the world's poorest people. The World Bank Group is composed of 5 related institutions which focus on different aspects of development. It employs about 10,500 people world-wide and in 2001 loaned over $17 billion to its client countries. From 1988 the World Bank has become a large investor in biodiversity projects, and currently the Bank's environmental projects total US$16 billion. Along with Conservation International and the Global Environment Facility it has launched a fund to aid conservation of biodiversity hotspots in developing countries. The World Bank has also been involved in many projects which have been harmful to conservation, including financing oil, gas and coal projects. It is the guarantor for the multimillion-dollar project by ExxonMobil, Shell and TotalFinaElf to build a pipeline in Chad and Cameroon, through areas of great political instability. Funds intended for international aid are therefore being used by the oil companies to recoup their own risks. It has funded large dam projects across the world, these have serious environmental and social consequences. In 1996 Friends of the Earth claimed to have possession of secret documents implying the World Bank was backing logging in the African rain-forest. There has also been controversy over funding of waste incinerators in developing countries. Greenpeace believes that such plants cause pollution and are not a sustainable solution to the waste problem.

 

World Trade Organisation (WTO)

The first permanent global international organisation that deals with the rules of trade between nations, established in 1995. The WTO has a budget of 126 million Swiss francs and 500 secretarial staff. It provides a mechanism for settling disputes by committing its 142 member countries to a comprehensive set of trading rules. The World Bank believes WTO will enhance global income by $2.8 trillion ($1.5 trillion to developing countries) by 2015. Policy changes are made through majority voting. The Developed countries contribute 4/5 of WTO members but are only partially represented, and 29 of the 49 less developed countries listed by the UN are not represented because they cannot afford permanent trade experts in Switzerland. Alliances form, giving smaller countries greater power but also increasing power of larger members such as the 'Quad'. The organisation sets out to promote international peace and co-operation by enabling trade to flow smoothly, using trade sanctions to enforce rules. But these rules often override environmental treaties such as CITES, The Montreal Protocol and the Basel Convention. The WTO is frequently criticised for focusing too narrowly on trade, and not considering the environmental, social, cultural and developmental aspects of producing commodities. (despite provisions within WTO agreements to deal with environmental issues). Environmental policies that minimally affect trade are permitted by the 'Green box' agreement within WTO policy. Any such environmental policies, however, must not increase the price of the commodity for the consumer, and must limit subsidies to the farmer. In effect, the WTO advocates production by the cheapest methods. The organisation is accused of being a battering ram for multinational companies, pushing corporate agendas. Consequently, demonstrations have been held in protest against the work of the WTO at its meetings. The WTO claims that it is helping to reduce the cost of living, to increase consumer choice, and to increase national and personal incomes and economic growth of less developed countries are provided. The objectives of its International Trade Regime (TRIPs Agreement) conflict directly with those of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), thereby posing a threat to biodiversity. Article 27.3b of the TRIPs agreement obliges members to provide patents or Intellectual Property Rights on most life forms. This goes against the CBD recognition of the sovereignty of biological resources, enabling biodiversity to be seen as state property. The CBD expressly acknowledges the role of indigenous people in both understanding and preserving bio resources and their right to profit from them. Transnational agrochemical companies are permitted to sue member countries if they prohibit the import and use of a corporation's own genetically engineered food crop seeds. Permitting such seeds to be widely grown could wipe out endemic and biodiverse seed varieties that have been safeguarded and used sustainably for years. As genetically engineered seeds are able to withstand broad-spectrum herbicides, it is likely that monocultures would be formed. The TRIPs agreement has authority over the Convention on Biological Diversity, for which there is no specific enforcement mechanism whereas violation of WTO rules results in trade sanctions.

 

 

Compiled by C. Patrick Doncaster from information collected by BS307 class of 2001-2, 13 December 2001