Shocking Falsehood Used in BBC Report on Palm Oil

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) continues to portray palm oil as an undesirable commodity which destroys rainforests, threatens orangutans with extinction, and condemns indigenous peoples to poverty. The Corporation’s position against palm oil can obviously be seen in a series of videos on its YouTube channel where sensationalized titles like “BBC Earth-Red Ape: The Palm Oil Problem,” and “Indigenous People Left with little after palm oil farms” or “How do we go palm oil free?” paint a negative image of palm oil. These reports can only be perceived as anti-palm oil. Reports like “What is Palm Oil” leads viewers to… Read More

Part 2: Stories from My Dad’s Plantation

In my first article, I told you about my Dad’s experience as an oil palm farmer in managing relationship with his laborers, facing elephants, orangutans and other wild and pest animals. This time, I would like to share how Dad and his workers manage the plants in his farm. Dad is intercropping oil palm and Areca tress Intercropping is rooted in the palm fields Back to the story of Sunar and Isah, the couple who takes care Dad’s farm. I see Isah as a smart and dilligent worker’s wife. She initiated to plant some jengol trees ( Archidendron pauciflorum), planted… Read More

Part 1: Stories from My Dad’s Plantation

“Sunar got stomped over by elephants, causing three broken ribs and four broken back bones. He needs a ventilator to breath,” Dad told me over a text message. My Dad is a palm oil farmer. He hires three laborers to help him take care of an eight hectares farm in Duri, Riau province. Sunar was one of them. Although the animals are considered as deadly pests, the palm farmers and laborers in this area agree to not kill them as they will also not allow others. Dad often fell asleep om a bed of dirt and falling leaves because he… Read More

Part 2: The EU Can Save Tropical Forests Through Multilateral Agreements

The EU wants to save tropical forests from Southeast Asia to Africa in order to mitigate the impacts of climate change. The current crop of politicians guiding forest and deforestation policies have highlighted the EU’s consumption of palm oil for food and fuel as a target much to the chagrin of palm oil producing countries. The anti-palm oil position adopted by the EU can only be described as discriminatory when it sidelines much bigger causes of tropical deforestation in soy and beef and ignores hunger in tropical countries as a cause of biodiversity loss and deforestation. Were it not for… Read More

No such thing as sustainable palm oil: What nonsense

Last week an Italian scientist, Roberto Gatti, made headlines in Malaysia when he proclaimed that there is “no such thing as sustainable palm oil”. The only problem is that Mr Gatti is wrong. Indeed, oil palm producers have for the last 15 years become the lightning rod for the public’s growing anger on issues relating to deforestation, global warming, subpar labour practices, and transboundary haze. Only a silent few have questioned these allegations, leading the vast majority of the public to swallow these headlines hook, line, and sinker – leaving the narrative unchallenged. It is as if the endless supply… Read More

Kraft Heinz’s No Palm Oil Marketing a Lesson for Global Brands

Kraft Heinz introduced a new hazelnut spread for its Canadian consumers in June 2020 which could turn out to be an invaluable lesson for multinational companies. A soft introduction was launched when Kraft ran a poll on Twitter asking Kraft Peanut Butter followers whether they would prefer their hazelnut spread with or without palm oil. This was the first mistake they made. Social media platforms, especially Twitter which facilitates open discussions, are useful for marketing traction if the campaign is solid. The Kraft Peanut Butter poll on its new hazelnut spread ended in a mess as participants weighed in with… Read More

The Rise of the Southeast Asia Tigers

The rise of the Southeast Asian tigers in Indonesia and Malaysia owe in no small part, to their prominent roles as major sources for vegetable oils in the global market. As the two countries celebrate their independence from colonial masters this month, amidst the calls for the decolonization of conservation and the rights of developing countries to reach par with the rich North, there remains a stubborn stain of the colonial past who insist, that development should not threaten orangutans, tigers and elephants in Southeast Asia. It is therefore completely reasonable that the palm oil industries in Malaysia and Indonesia… Read More

Debunking the myth of Asian deforestation

The main environmental challenge of our time alongside climate change is the loss of primary forests and biodiversity. In 2019 the Global Forest Watch reported the loss of 11.9 million hectares of forest in the tropics: the equivalent of a football pitch every 6 seconds. After having felled forests and woodlands in Europe and North America, it is of vital importance for us to protect our remaining green lung. This is essential not only to guarantee the oxygenation cycles of the planet but also to protect its wide biodiversity. Deforested land is often used for crops (mainly soya), livestock farming… Read More

Swiss Farmers Desperate for Trade Protection against Palm Oil

Nasaie, an oil palm small farmer in West Aceh Regency, Indonesia, joined the Replanting Program launched in 2017. The program aimed to improve not only the smallholder’s welfare but also the ecological quality by promoting sustainable practices among the smallholders. The boycott of palm oil (PO) is the biggest obstacle to sustainability. This is borne out by fact and demonstrated by the most credible scientific research. The most recent, entitled “Environmental, Economic, and Social Consequences of the Oil Palm Boom” (Annual Review of Resource Economics), explains that PO is the nutrient that strikes the best balance between food security on… Read More

WHO Misleads Global Public on Palm Oil

The World Health Organization (WHO)’s COVID-19 response has put the Geneva-based institution under considerable international pressure – for good reason. After receiving the recent ire of U.S. President Donald Trump, who intends to withhold funding of the WHO, the organization now finds itself in the spotlight for providing poor nutritional guidance to consumers during the lockdown. The WHO recommends to “consume unsaturated fats (e.g. found in fish, avocado, nuts, olive oil, soy, canola, sunflower and corn oils) rather than saturated fats (e.g. found in fatty meat, butter, palm and coconut oils, cream, cheese, ghee and lard).” This is simply inaccurate,… Read More