Update from the Rainforest Alliance and Sustainable Agriculture Network Regarding Recent WASH Legal Actions

Recently, Water and Sanitation Health (WASH) raised complaints to the Rainforest Alliance regarding Chiquita Brands International and the marketing of bananas it sells from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms in Guatemala.

In response to WASH, the Rainforest Alliance and the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) local partner in Guatemala, Fundación Interamericana de Investigación Tropical, conducted investigative audits of the relevant certified banana farms. The auditors found that the farms were in compliance with the SAN certification standards.

The Rainforest Alliance and the SAN take allegations of non-conformance with the SAN certification standards seriously. We appreciate the role that organizations like WASH play in bringing potential issues to our attention.

The farms were audited based on the information submitted by WASH and are located within the proximity and watersheds surrounding the communities mentioned in the complaint. Auditors found conformance with the SAN standards on all five of the farms visited, and the status of the certifications remains active. Farms named in the WASH complaint that are not Rainforest Alliance Certified were not audited as those farms are not permitted to sell Rainforest Alliance Certified products.

“Managers and workers on the audited farms demonstrated to the audit team a high level of transparency and a strong commitment to fulfilling the requirements of the certification program,” said Diego Verdesia, Sustainable Farm Certification Manager, who handles the SAN complaints process for the Rainforest Alliance. “The audit team also noted that there is a wide variety of agricultural activity upstream and downstream of the communities listed in the complaint and confirmed that the majority of these farms are not Rainforest Alliance Certified.”

“Concerns expressed by organizations like WASH are helpful to certification programs, as they allow us to review the strength of our standards, investigations and auditing procedures,” said Andre de Freitas, director of SAN. “We want to always have a high level of assurance that certified farms comply with our standards, show the continuous improvement the standards require and are minimizing environmental impacts and improving quality of life for workers and communities.”

For more than 25 years, the Rainforest Alliance has been working toward our mission to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. We collaborate with companies that are committed to measurable progress toward sustainability. Together with SAN, we are working with thousands of forward-thinking producers to conserve natural resources and ensure the long-term economic health of farming communities. We applaud the farmers and companies that have made an ongoing commitment to improve business practices and to foster sustainable solutions to the serious environmental and social challenges we face worldwide. For more information, please visit www.rainforest-alliance.org and www.san.ag.

Forest canopy - photo by Sergio Izquierdo

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