The New Zealand Herald
The Malaysian Palm Oil Council applauds teenager Ben Dowdle for promoting a cause he believes in (‘How to Avoid Palm Oil’). However, the Herald’s coverage provided a biased view of palm oil that warrants a counterpoint.
The article implies that palm oil production is bad for the environment; and that banning palm oil would be positive.
But consider the benefits of palm oil. Palm oil is a vital vegetable oil for consumers. In the US where all vegetable oils are labeled (no discrimination), palm oil imports have risen significantly. Products containing palm oil are promoted for their cholesterol lowering properties. In Malaysia, the industry supports environmental conservation, and preservation of 56% of Malaysia’s forest, (New Zealand protects 31.2%) and offers sustainable palm oil to buyers.
Many Malaysians do not have the luxury of campaigning in the media – their daily concern is how to feed their family. Palm oil provides incomes for 500,000 family farmers in Malaysia and has helped millions out of poverty. Boycotting palm oil will hurt these people. It will not end poverty or deforestation; it will exacerbate it.
Master Dowdle is aged 17: he cannot be expected to be aware of these complexities, but the Herald should have a more informed view of the world.
Dr Yusof Basiron
Chief Executive Officer
Malaysian Palm Oil Council