The Oil Palm

Emerging Western Defenders of Palm Oil

Palm oil has been a golden crop for Malaysia, supporting societal advancement that has benefited hundreds of thousands of rural workers, supporting domestic and regional food security and giving the world a healthy, sustainable vegetable oil source.

Despite all these benefits, Western NGOs – including those funded by Western governments – have sought to shame palm oil based on false environmental allegations. And some Western governments have been a party to this discrimination, through protectionist policies such as the Renewable Energy Directive and food labeling regulations.

Defenders in the West have begun to raise awareness about the WENGOs’ misguided campaigns.  MPOC’s most recent Global Oils and Fats Business Magazine highlighted two of these contributions from more enlightened Western intellectual organizations:

A report released December 2010 by the United Kingdom’s Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) chronicled the support provided to environmental NGOs by the EU and UK governments – begging the question: who do these NGOs represent? Friends of the Earth – Europe, a frequent critic of the palm oil industry, received 52% of its 2008 income from the EU, while 46% of its funding for that year was dedicated to lobbying the EU.

Meanwhile, the Washington, DC-based Heritage Foundation examined shortcomings in US and European development and trade policies, directly undermining the potential prosperity and economic growth of developing communities. The World Bank, the primary institution for development-lending established following the Second World War, has also become implicated in undermining international development policy. According to the Heritage Foundation report, the implications of the new World Bank lending framework for the palm oil sector demonstrate an elevation of sustainability criteria above the need to reduce poverty – bringing into question the World Bank staying true to its intended purpose.

It is heartening to see such reasoned thinking from within the very communities where Western NGO propaganda has become engrained. They recognize that despite the accusations, our industry demonstrates the highest standards in environmental stewardship and labour standards, while bestowing prosperity to thousands of previously poor. It is time for Western government policies to recognize this as well.