Malaysian Palm Oil Council tries to strikes back

Written by David Gilbert

Topics: Agribusiness

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Margaret just put up a great post on this blog about faulty advertising by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC). In following this story as it bounces around the net, I was pointed to a statement released by Yusof Basiron, the CEO of MPOC. In it, he attacks the Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority (or ASA – the government agency that regulates advertising) for not allowing the general public to be exposed to the full range of viewpoints on palm oil:

Consumers have a right to have information about the various products and services available to them and a right to determine for themselves which they want.

That is a statement everyone can agree with. But what Basiron did not do is attempt to support his advert’s misinformation and false science. The ASA ruled that MPOC released an ad that was not factual, and that is what Basiron should be refuting. But clearly he can not. This is not the first time that MPOC and Basiron has said some surprising things. Just a few months ago, Basiron claimed that orangutans actually benefit from oil palm plantations, a claim that has been refuted by many  published papers showing that palm oil is a key driver of the orangutans’ steady decline towards extinction. For years now, the MPOC has been throwing around the term ‘sustainable’ for their palm oil producers, who have been busily destroying forests and uprooting cultures. It seems that MPOC wants us to believe that just because the palm trees they plant are green, so are their business practices.

Barison has his own blog, and it is informing to read his perspective on ‘anti-developing country environmentalists’, as he refers to them. When it comes to sustainability, he argues because the MPOC “…is among the first to consciously apply R&D, licensing and registration activities…” to make the oil palm a viable industry, and  “The dictionary states  that viability and sustainability roughly have similar meanings” then the oil palm industry must be sustainable. If it was only that easy.

3 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Katy says:

    This is very interesting. I just got back from a trip to Sabah Malaysia. I wanted to listen openly to the “Malaysians side of the story.” They claim that only 20% of Sabah is Palm Oil plantation – which I found hard to believe as I could only see Palm Oil plantations in every direction from the plane. I want to further investigate on Google Earth.

    The Malaysian government also says that they do not use any forested or partially forested areas for palm oil plantations – they only use areas that were already destroyed by the logging industry. According to their government no forests are allowed to be cut down for plantations.

    It’s interesting talking to the people (most are not willing to talk about palm oil) but the few that are seem to not be fans – they feel the rich people of West Malaysia make most of the money from the plantations. Eco tourism is starting to be a big industry and Sabah and locals can see that maintaining forests can also be valuable.

  2. Palm Oil says:

    Agreed.. Sabah is the largest producer of oil palm in Malaysia.. the land usage is actually more than 20%.. you can see them very clearly using Google Maps.

    We hope for the better management of the plantation in that area as currently the ratio of production to land area is quite small.

  3. Winmac says:

    More than 20 percent and it’s a big thing? Malaysia pledge to have 50% of it’s land under forest in the Rio Summit. What they wanted to do with rest of the 50% is totally up to the country as they too have rights to develop their land. A high yielding crop like palm oil helps to avoid more deforestation as bigger land are needed for other crop to match the yield that oil palm trees does. Search for FELDA case – an award winning federal scheme from the UN. all of the farmers are now living decently with good house and even cars which they wouldn’t even dream of 20 years back. All you guys care is forest. what good is forest is people are hungry and live in poverty? Without doubt there are some human-animal conflict when you open up new agricultural land but most of them are sent to sanctuaries, so you westeners who had killed all of your native animals, can see some exotic creatures. and the population is still big, far far away from extinction.

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