EDMONTON — The only fruit we usually think about around this time of year is clementine oranges, but the last seven days have seen a country split down the middle of an environmental debate kicked off by Chiquita bananas.
In a November letter to ForestEthics, Chiquita vice-president Manuel Rodriguez wrote that the company was "committed to directing our transportation providers to avoid, where possible, fuels from tarsands refineries and to adopt a strategy of continuous improvement towards the elimination of those fuels."
And Canadians went ape, with EthicalOil.org leading the charge on one side — calling on Canadians to ban Chiquita products — and various environmentalist groups on the other.
While ForestEhthics.org has listed other companies that have "boycotted" Canada’s oil, the banana king has taken a solid hit given its history of being a less than sweet company.
The fruit company has denied that it is trying to boycott the oilsands and is simply encouraging truckers "where possible" to use "alternative fuels with a lower carbon footprint that have not been derived from refineries that utilize oilsands."
The Toronto Sun reported that CTA president and chief executive David Bradley, in a letter to Chiquita, said truckers can’t know which fuels have oilsands content, and even if they did, drivers would have to take the first filling station available regardless.
Bradley also asked the company for an "unequivocal" statement about whether the company supports a ban on the use of "oilsands fuel" in shipping its products to market.
Chiquita spokesman Ed Loyd said that "Contrary to some press reports, Chiquita is not banning or boycotting Canadian fuel," he said. "Chiquita currently utilizes, and will continue to utilize, Canadian fuel sources."
Kathryn Marshall, spokeswoman for EthicalOil.org, however, is still saying Chiquita’s move amounts to a boycott.
"You can word it any way that you want, but if your goal is to not use Canadian oilsands oil, that’s a boycott."
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