World Rainforest Movement

Danish NGO censured for protecting rainforests

According to the Danish Data Protection Agency, the environmental NGO Nepenthes is not allowed to advise Danish consumers against purchasing from shops where they risk buying garden furniture whose production has contributed to the destruction of rainforests.

The Danish Data Protection Agency (Datatilsynet) has ordered Nepenthes to remove its “Blacklist” of retailers from the home page http://www.tropetrae.dk . The order was issued after the Danish Timber Trade Federation complained to the Agency on behalf of the hardwood furniture company, Kircodan Furniture, which is one of the companies found on the Blacklist. “It is highly regrettable that Kircodan Furniture and the Danish Timber Trade Federation try to suppress us instead of changing their business profiles. They should rather spend their energy on supplying sustainable FSC-labelled wood products to their customers”, says Jacob Andersen, President of Nepenthes.

The Data Protection Agency characterise the case as a “new delimitation” of the legislation, and it is therefore surprising and deplorable that the Agency agrees with the Danish Timber Trade Federation’s view on the case. With the new delimitation of the law, the Data Protection Agency puts an effective halt on the ability of NGOs to advise consumers against purchasing from certain companies.” By this act, the essential role for NGOs and consumer organisations as critical watchdogs and debaters of society is amputated. That is of course totally unacceptable”, Jacob Andersen says. Illegal timber trade is seen as one of the most important reasons for the massive destruction of rainforests that is taking place in many countries, and governments in poor rainforest countries are annually losing billions of dollars due to timber that is smuggled out of their countries in order to be sold on Western markets.

“With the decision of the Danish Data Protection Agency, the trade in illegal timber is not only allowed to continue. It will have even better conditions than before, because it has been deemed illegal to dissuade consumers from buying from companies not doing enough to avoid trading in wood from illegal and destructive timber harvest”, Jacob Andersen rounds off.

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