Utne Blogs > Politics

Can You Buy Teak Without Funding a Military Junta?

Freedom for BurmaIt's beautiful, durable, and illegal. It shouldn't be possible for an American to purchase Burmese Teak—U.S. sanctions against the military junta there prohibit it. It's out there just the same, available online to anybody who can afford it. Global Post examins the "conflict timber" problem, highloghting the fact that, "In 2007-08, timber was the junta-run government’s fourth largest export."

So who sells this wood? According to Global Post, "As of December 2009, many U.S. companies were openly selling wood labeled as 'Burmese' online. They include Floors To Go’s line of 'Ulysses Burmese Teak,' CanTrust Hardwood's 'Solid Burmese Teak' and Corona Hardwood’s 'Burma Mahogany.'"

Can you buy teak without sending money to a repressive regime? Again, Global Post: "Yes. Harsh laws and a dwindling teak supply have given rise to “plantation” teak, often grown in tropical climes around Central and South America. Though this teak is considered more sustainable and eco-friendly, some boat makers and furniture dealers say it just can’t match the quality of old-growth Burmese teak."

Source: Global Post 

Image by Omni1, licensed under Creative Commons.