Palm Oil Debate Betrays EU Commitment to Truth and Science

As an agricultural engineer with more than 20 years of experience working in and around oil palm plantations in Africa and Asia, I am stunned by the shoddiness of the palm oil debate in Brussels. NGOs, which advocate against the production and consumption of palm oil, have lost sight of both science and truth, and EU political leaders appear to have no inclination to re-discover these core values. It is more and more obvious that European Union officials and Members of the European Parliament, in particular, are content to blindly follow NGOs, obsessed with their fight against palm oil, demonstrating… Read More

What Now for EU Trade Policy and Palm Oil?

At the core of the palm oil debate is the issue of trade: palm oil is known as the “world’s most traded edible oil”. The reason for this is simple: it is cost-effective, super-productive, and has many applications in energy, industrial uses and food. But as we are well aware, its impact on global edible oil markets has been nothing short of disruptive.  Palm oil’s market share has more than doubled since the 1980s to become the world’s most consumed vegetable oil. The share of other oils – soy, rapeseed and sunflower – has remained flat or declined. Growers of… Read More

How to Improve the Amsterdam Declaration

The “Amsterdam Declaration” – in place since 2015 and signed by major European Governments including Germany, France, the U.K., the Netherlands and Italy – is the roadmap to a “Fully Sustainable Palm Oil Supply Chain by 2020”. It’s essentially an attempt by these governments to push for only CSPO (which, at the time, was quite clearly defined only as “RSPO”) in all supply chains in their countries by 2020. This meant, in practice, establishing government action (e.g. in public procurement) and pressure on the private sector (many large European members of RSPO were also loud supporters of the Amsterdam Declaration).… Read More

Climate Change: Importance of the Global South

Last week’s COP25 Summit in Madrid should be an opportunity to focus attention on a global issue – of concern for all 7 billion people on the planet. Unfortunately, such global gatherings rarely succeed in considering the needs of the 6 billion who live outside of the Western world. Instead, the summit will probably focus media attention on the precocious Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg, who has become the poster-girl for climate change activists around the world in recent months. She is undoubtedly passionate and charismatic, but her casting as the voice of the global youth does not ring true: ultimately,… Read More