Is Dr. Oz Shilling for the Malaysian Palm Oil Mafia?

Written by Ashley Schaeffer

Topics: Agribusiness

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'Health Expert' Bryce Wylde Introducing Dr. Oz to Miracles of Palm Oil

‘Health Expert’ Bryce Wylde Introducing Dr. Oz to Miracles of Palm Oil

The public controversy around “America’s Doctor” is heating up.

You may have noticed, for instance, the feature article in the most recent issue of New Yorker magazine titled “The Operator: is the most trusted doctor in America doing more harm than good?”

As we recently reported, Dr. Oz, a TV personality who advocates healthy living on his top-rated, Oprah-hyped TV show “The Dr. Oz Show,” kicked off 2013 by encouraging his millions of viewers to give palm oil a try for its “incomparable” nutritional virtues.

Problem is, he failed to mention that palm oil is a leading cause of rainforest destruction and orangutan extinction. This is unfortunate, as his ill-informed recommendation has inspired a palm oil buying frenzy.

What could have compelled Dr. Oz to blindly pronounce palm oil America’s miracle vegetable oil of 2013 without telling his viewers the whole story or offering any real science to back up his claims?

Consider this: The multi-billion dollar palm oil industry—best known for its role in rainforest destruction, species extinction and human rights abuses—has mounted an increasingly aggressive PR offensive to clean up its image, pesky facts be damned.

The cover story in the current issue of The New Yorker asks if Dr. Oz is "doing more harm than good."

The cover story in the current issue of The New Yorker asks if Dr. Oz is “doing more harm than good.”

Over the past couple years the well-heeled palm oil industry has deployed it’s mafia-esque coterie of promoters, led by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) and corporate-profits-at-all-costs cheer-leader-in-chief Alan Oxley to wage a sophisticated lobbying campaign aimed at altering the negative perceptions of palm oil by re-branding the controversial commodity as sustainable, healthy, even dubbing it “nature’s gift to mankind.” Sounding familiar?

While we can’t say that Dr. Oz did what he did because he’s taking money directly from the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, here are a few puzzle pieces that paint a troubling picture:

  1. Bryce Wylde, the “health expert” who brought palm oil to the attention of Dr. Oz, posted a case for palm oil on his own Facebook wall—just before Dr. Oz pushed it to his audience—which was literally copied and pasted from MPOC’s PR campaign language.
  2. In May 2012 MPOC hired lobbying giant Holland & Knight to challenge the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’S) science-based findings that palm-based biofuels don’t meet federal greenhouse gas standards under the renewable fuels mandate.
  3. In 2011 MPOC created a TV advertisement that shamelessly promoted false statements about the virtues of palm oil to such a degree that the British Advertising Standards Authority banned it throughout the entire country.
  4. Prior to MPOC’s 2011 UK ad embarrassment, in 2009, a separate magazine ad, also produced by MPOC and entitled “Palm Oil: The Green Answer,” was banned by the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) for making “allegations—hidden under a thin veneer of environmental concern—based neither on scientific evidence, nor, for that matter, on fact.”
  5. Finally, consider this—Alan Oxley, MPOC’s biggest advocate, was accused by world-renowned scientists of propagating “significant distortions, misrepresentations, or misinterpretations of fact… designed to defend the credibility of corporations… directly or indirectly supporting them financially.”

Is it purely coincidence that Dr. Oz and his wingman Bryce Wylde are promoting palm oil to the American public just as MPOC’s aggressive PR campaign and financially backed lobby muscle try to influence the American public and EPA’s big decision on palm oil?

Or could it be that another embarrassing media censure is on the way like when a UK TV company was forced to suspend its relationship with the Malaysian government after broadcasting false information to millions of people around the world through programs made by a company that had received millions of pounds in payments from the government of Malaysia?

Time will tell. Meanwhile, if you haven’t done so yet, please send Dr. Oz a letter now and ask him to correct his irresponsible statements on air.

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

  1. OrangAware says:

    Great article, Ashley!! Thanks for this very clear picture of the concerted effort being made by an evil and greedy palm oil industry and their trying to paint a very distorted green picture.
    Dr. Oz and Bryce are just little tools – albeit still dangerous ones – being used by a very crafty, well funded PR/lobbying machine to change the tarnished image of palm oil.
    Here is an old article about Alan Oxley and his palm oil connection – tough to read without vomiting…but it’s good to know your enemy: http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2010/8/14/business/6853110
    An Alan Oxley quote: “It is baffling how these green activists seem to be in favour of the livelihood of animals rather than focusing on eradicating poverty among the poor and needy humans.”
    Poor and needy humans??? or does he mean rich and greedy corporations??
    It is so much more than the”livelihoods or animals” – yes, its about orangutans…but about tigers, sun bears, elephants and countless other critically endangered species, as well as protecting the last remaining rain forests. It’s about climate change and carbon emissions, and about indigenous peoples with diverse cultures that are now threatened with losing their rainforest homes.
    Thanks for all you and RAN are doing! We all need to keep alert and keep the pressure on!!

  2. Jane says:

    Your link to contact Dr. Oz has been compromised.

  3. Ayra says:

    I’m so glad there are people in Minnesota that are aware of the palm oil destruction and murder nightmare! I feel like I’m the only one! I’ve tried educating people who are unaware, and they just don’t care. It’s really sad. Even though this “doctor” is promoting palm oil, it may be a good thing since it will bring attention to it and truth can be discovered – I hope that’s what ends up happening anyway. I remember a time when no one knew what high fructose corn syrup was, and now many products are actually taking it out. That’s one of the mafia Mansanto’s products. But palm oil feels much, much worse to me than Monsanto’s schemes and crimes, and that’s saying something!

  4. Anabell Ramirez says:

    Shame on you Dr. Oz for not making sure what the environmental consecuencies are on the products you suggest.

  5. Jay says:

    Just want to put some things into perspective. In Africa, Brazil, and other countries with large pop. of African descendants, palm oil has been used for hundreds of years in traditional cuisine. The problem is that now the north American food industry has discovered that because the oil, in modified form, gives longer shelf life to its packaged foods ( cookies, crackers and hundreds of other products) the need for a cheap source of the oil is just as important as petroleum is to the transportation industry. Again the villain is not the oil but the producers, marketers and consumers of it. Consumers don’t just go out and buy palm oil, we consume it in hidden form in thousands of supermarket goodies. We need to put pressure on the food industry to stop using palm oil.

  6. roxanne says:

    Thank you for this news! If we took everything the “Great” Dr. Oz recommends we would need extra storage rooms. I certainly heed any advice he gives very carefully and have no respect for him anymore.
    Since recently learning about the source of palm oil, we no longer use any products or eat foods containing palm oil. We need to keep passing on the horrors of destruction daily occurring in the rainforests!

  7. Mary Eckel says:

    Dr. Oz is as good and helpful a doctor as Dr. Phil is a counselor. He constantly recommends all kinds of snake oil (as well as palm oil) to his sheep-like followers, who rush out and buy, buy, buy whatever he graces with his imprimatur. And then they tell their friends to buy it, too. This article did away with the last vestige of credibility the doc had for me. He is dangerous on so many levels! Thanks for your excellent reporting.

Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Is Dr. Oz Shilling for the Malaysian Palm Oil Mafia? | Care2 Causes
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  3. Is Palm Oil Healthy? » Rainforest Action Network Blog

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