PETALING JAYA, July 8 – The Belgian volunteer advertising arbiter, the Juridique d’Ethique Publicitaire (JEP), joined in the global campaign against palm oil with their decision against online advertisements by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC). This decision is yet another unprecedented effort by Europe to ensure Malaysia cannot promote palm oil and stifle speech and debate about the palm oil industry. Siding with Western environmental organizations against smallholders in Malaysia and across the developing world, the Juridique d’Ethique Publicitaire has undermined efforts to ensure sustainable development, eliminate poverty and guarantee food security for the poor around the world. What’s more, MPOC finds this decision to be extremely hypocritical when organizations like the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which like MPOC, actively support efforts across Europe in the media to demonstrate palm oil’s sustainability. Further, many leaders of the Malaysian palm oil industry are also members of RSPO.
As MPOC argued that sustainability as defined by the JEP directly contradicts the universally recognized definition of “sustainable development” by the United Nations. As stated in the UN’s Brundtland Report, sustainable development is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Instead, the JEP has elected to assess environmental concerns as more important than the needs of people.
The palm oil industry is both a vital employer in Southeast Asia, as well as an important provider of vegetable oils/fats to the global market, accounting for more than 32.3 per cent of globally traded vegetable oils/fats. In Malaysia, the industry employs more than 570,000 people directly, and another 290,000 people in downstream industries, while 39 per cent of Malaysian palm oil is produced by smallholders. However, despite the significant impact the industry has on employment and meeting demand, oil palms occupy only 5 per cent of global land devoted to oilseeds, making it the most land-efficient vegetable oil source available.
Despite all of these facts on palm oil, the JEP elected to ignore the millions of producers throughout the developing world that have turned to palm oil as a sustainable industry to rise out of poverty. They ignored the social benefits afforded through palm oil development such as schools and health clinics, as well as electricity generation for communities that before had never had power. And they have failed to consider the millions of hectares worldwide that have been protected thanks to palm oil’s superior yields and land efficiency.