Airlines urged to move away from destructive jatropha

26 March 2012

The airlines KLM and Air France vowed not to do business with Dutch company Waterland International following the publication of Friends of the Earth Netherlands report revealing the company's involvement in damaging jatropha cultivation in Java for the production of aviation biokerosene.

The report revealed threats to local food cultivation in Java, and the exploitation of farmers, following investments in jatropha from Waterland International.

Campaign coordinator Geert Ritsema of Friends of the Earth Netherlands, who visited the Indonesian island of Java to research Waterland's practices, said: "They promised poor, uneducated farmers, with small plots of land, great profits if they switched from growing food crops to inedible jatropha. In the end they received a pittance for their harvest, which in many cases was only partially bought up. They were already poor, but they are now reduced to beggary, left with a stock of plants that are worthless."

Milieudefensie welcomes the airlines' disassociation from Waterland International, but urges the other major airline, Lufthansa, to follow suit. Last month, 30,000 people wrote to Lufthansa asking the airline to permanently stop flying on biokerosene and to compensate Javanese victims. Biokerosene is the new buzzword in the air transport sector. However, fuel produced from farm crops is not a satisfactory alternative for regular kerosene. If large numbers of flights soon start using biokerosene, the consequences for people in Southern countries will be disastrous.