Thursday, September 24, 2009

The guilty secrets of palm oil: Are you unwittingly contributing to the devastation of the rain forests? - Environment - The Independent

*Please follow link for articles, photos and more information on DIRTY PALM

Palm Oil Facts

90% of Sumatra's orangutan population has disappeared since 1900. They now face extinction

90% of wildlife disappears when the forest is replaced by palm, creating a biological desert

98% of Indonesia's forests may be destroyed by 2022 according to the United Nations 43 of Britain's 100 top grocery brands contain or are thought to contain palm oil

Bookmark and Share

Palm oil producers 'misled' over green claims - Green Living, Environment - The Independent

Palm oil producers 'misled' over green claims - Green Living, Environment - The Independent

The palm oil industry misled the public by claiming production of the vegetable fat was sustainable and socially useful, according to an official investigation.

In a ruling today, the Advertising Standards Authority upheld four complaints against a magazine advert by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) intended to counter environmental and human rights criticism of its record.

Plantations producing palm oil for food, household products and biofuels have destroyed swathes of rainforest on the Indonesian and Malaysian islands of Sumatra and Borneo, evicting indigenous tribes and threatening orangutans and other endangered species.

Related articles
The guilty secrets of palm oil: Are you unwittingly contributing to the devastation of the rain forests?

In a magazine advert headed ‘Palm Oil: The Green Answer’, MPOC claimed the oil was the only global crop able to meet growing demand for food and fuel sustainably and efficiently. It claimed the industry followed "high" environmental standards and referred to its founding membership of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), “which defines standards and monitoring criteria for the sustainable production and use of palm oil”.

MPOC suggested that Western criticism of palm oil was motivated by a commercial desire to safeguard domestic oils. “A number of criticisms have been levelled at Malaysia's palm oil industry, from accusations of rampant deforestation and unsound environmental practices to unfair treatment of farmers and indigenous people,” it said.

“These allegations – protectionist agendas hidden under a thin veneer of environmental concern – are based neither on scientific evidence, nor, for that matter, on fact.”

Friends of the Earth (FOE) complained that the advert gave the impression that all Malaysian palm oil was produced to RSPO standards, challenged whether it was produced to high environmental standards and questioned whether biofuels helped local people and the planet. On development, it challenged MPOC’s claim that palm oil played an important role in industrialisation and alleviation of poverty, especially in rural communities.

Backing the complaints, the ASA said there was “concern” that palm oil production caused greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation and that its impact on the environment was contentious and difficult to measure. Although the ad had implied that all Malaysian producers were in the RSPO, only some sought certification and even then the scheme was controversial.

The suggestion that opposition to biofuels was wholly unfounded was unreasonable given that the Gallagher review ordered by the British Government had found that biofueld could hurt the poor by raising food price; there was a division of informed opinion on the issue, the ASA said.

It acknowledged that palm oil had diversified the Malaysian economy, but added there was no consensus on whether it was helping Malaysians.

A previous ASA investigation into a similar claim made by MPOC concluded that ‘the claim 'sustainable' was likely to mislead’. The ASA said: “We were concerned that MPOC had repeated the claim ‘sustainable’...”

In a series of articles in May, The Independent chronicled the impact of palm oil on forests, wildlife and tribes and revealed its widespread use in products on sale in the UK such as KitKat, Wrigley’s, Hovis and Persil.

According to WWF, less than one per cent of global palm oil production is certified by the RSPO. So far only Unilever, Sainsbury’s and the Body Shop have bought it in any significant quantity.

Bookmark and Share

Dairy farmers urged to stop using palm oil by-product

Dairy farmers urged to stop using palm oil by-product

Dairy farmers are being blamed for the destruction of tropical rain forests. New Zealand cows ate more than 1 million tonnes of palm kernels last year - a quarter of the world's total consumption of the palm oil by-product.

Environmentalists say the trade is a death sentence for endangered orangutans.

New Zealand dairy farmers are now being held partly responsible for turning the once-lush Indonesian rainforest into a charred, smoking wasteland.

"Clear felling the rainforest, some of the last great rainforest, in order to feed dairy cows I think is environmental suicide," says Green Party co-leader Russel Norman.

Last year, local dairy farmers imported $300 million worth of palm kernel. It is a by-product of palm oil production, used to feed cattle.

"New Zealand dairy is sold overseas as clean and green, with cows on green pastures, and so if people realise that in fact those cows are being fed on a product of the destruction of the last of the great rainforest, it will be extremely damaging," says Mr Norman.
Pictures provided by Greenpeace show the devastation caused by the palm oil industry. It is also blamed for killing orangutans.

But farmers say they are not accountable, because palm kernel would be thrown away if not used as cattle feed, and dairy giant Fonterra claims much of what is imported here has no negative impact on the environment.

Palm oil products have already caused much controversy this month. Last week Cadbury bowed to public pressure and stopped using palm product in its chocolate.

Environmentalists say dairy farmers should follow the company's lead and find something else to feed their cows.

Bookmark and Share

Dairy farmers urged to stop using palm oil by-product

3 News > Business > Story > Dairy farmers urged to stop using palm oil by-product

Bookmark and Share