The Danish-controlled plantation company United Plantations of Malaysia exposes its workers to deadly pesticides – including ”Agent Paraquat”, which even in very small doses can lead to poisoning, which destroys the lungs.
Paraquat has for years been banned in the EU.
Malaysian workers say that many of them suffer from particular rash, breathing difficulties and nails, that become red and disintegrate, which are classic symptoms of poisoning with insecticides.
They also tell about inadequate medical care, and that they are protected only by heavy rubber boots and gloves, which are useless in Malaysia’s humid heat.
United Plantations of Malaysia owns huge areas with palm trees, whose fruit is used to produce palm oil.
A lot of the oil is sold to food giants like Nestle, Kraft, Mars and Arla.
In addition, there are palm oil from United Plantations into a wide range of other products such as soap and cosmetics.
Many workers seek help from Ravindran R. Naidu, who is a doctor in a small town near the United Plantations’ headquarters in Malaysia.
According to Doctor Naidu, United Plantations will not pay for treatment, forcing the workers to find help on their own.
”I think I on average get a visit from 500 to 1000 laborers a month from United Plantations, which bear signs of being poisoned by pesticides,” he says.
United Plantations Danish director Carl Bek-Nielsen, does not want to speak to the medias, but has issued a press release saying hat the company approached by some of its principal customers “had decided to stop the use of paraquat in the new year.”
United Plantations sells much of its palm oil to the company AarhusKarlshamn, which is partly owned by United Plantations. At AarhusKarlshamn the oil is processed and resold.
Both Arla and chocolate giant Kraft are among the buyers.
Kraft now requires an explanation and will reasses whether they should continue to buy palm oil from AarhusKarlshamn.
“We neither want or can have subcontractors that do not take care of the working conditions of their employees in an orderly manner,” said communications director at Kraft, Kjersti Oppen.
Same tone sounds from Ulla Nilsson, responsible for working in Arla Foods:
“We will immediately take up the matter with AarhusKarlshamn and ask for an explanation and demanding that they get a grip on the situation on the plantations,” she says.