- Posted April 30, 2012 by
Los Angeles, California
Palm oil and the chain of goodwill
It was Frigyes Karinthy, a Hungarian author who wrote a short story 80 years ago called “Chain-Links,” in which he proposed the idea that any two individuals in the world are connected through, at most, five acquaintances. The thesis has been revived today and is usually described as “Six Degrees of Separation.” It’s an unproven theory, of course. But there is a dynamic at work that links us to others around the world.
When I contemplate on the way the palm oil industry has gone about to address the blunderbuss attacks launched against it by a cabal of “green” and “civil society” groups like such as the oddly named Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth (FOE), the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), the WWF and even zoos such as, wait for this… the Melbourne Zoo, the Auckland Zoo and the Philly Zoo, I can’t help but be impressed with the industry’s calm and level headed approach to the blast of ill will directed against it by these “green” and ‘civil society” groups.
For one, when accused of massive deforestation that threatens the extinction of exotic wildlife like the orangutan, the palm oil industry helped set up the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) together with other stakeholders such as planters, refiners, food manufacturers and even the “green” and “civil society” groups. The rationale was that a body like the RSPO could help educate planters and establish ground rules that will help propagate sustainable practices amongst palm oil planters.
For another, the Malaysian Palm oil Council (MPOC) established a US7 Million Wildlife Conservation Fund that provides a matching grant to encourage orangutan and other wildlife conservation efforts by NGOs.
One would think that initiatives such as these would help spread goodwill around and be supported by “green” and “civil society” groups. However, by their actions and sometimes by omission, these “green” and “civil society” groups have laid bare their mala fides on this issue.
Rather than supporting these noble initiatives, these juvenile delinquents dressed in the cloaks of “green” and ‘civil society” groups appear hell bent on continuing their destructive ploys rather than building bridges.
They turned on the RSPO, an organization that they are members of and accused it of being a greenwashing vehicle for the palm oil industry. To add insult to injury, the uptake of “green” palm oil has been disappointing to say the least.
To make matters worse, not a single “green” and “civil society” group, including orangutan “protection” groups, has applied for the matching grant from the MPOC. It appears that it is all too easy to criticize the industry. However, when they have to put their money where their mouth is, as in putting up an equal amount to qualify for the matching grant, their social and animal concerns appear to mysteriously vanish. What a bunch of hypocrites!
Hypocrisy, on the other hand is less of a concern. What would be more alarming is if the “green” and “civil society” groups’ blunderbuss attacks against palm oil smells of payola! Given their strange reluctance to support conservation efforts initiated by the palm oil industry certainly raises this ugly specter and certainly a reasonable suspicion of payola.
In any event, for a commodity that is probably inherently the most sustainable which is cultivated on only 0.023% of the world’s agricultural lands to come under such concerted attack by the green movement is indeed laughable! Rather than spreading goodwill, these "green" and "civil society" groups are instead purveyors of ill will!