Thursday, 17 December 2009

Palm oil industry must come clean

Thursday December 17, 2009 The Star, Malaysia

Palm oil industry must come clean

THE biggest and most obvious threat to the palm oil industry is the industry itself (“Unilever’s action may start a precedent,” The Star, Dec 15).

It is either unable or unwilling to mend its bad practices. Further evidence of this is the fact that Unilever studied the evidence from Greenpeace and decided there was at least a case to answer, but seemingly so compelling was the evidence that Sinar Mas had been cheating that Unilever decided to end its contractual obligations with it.

If anyone thinks Unilever took such a major decision without first studying the evidence and consulting their lawyers, then they don’t understand the commercial world.

No one internationally would for a moment take seriously a “Malaysian Palm” brand. How could they when Malaysian palm oil companies either own or invest in plantations across the border in Kalimantan and Sumatra?

I say again to the palm oil industry: get out of denial about the true cost of your palm oil to the poor, the rainforests, wildlife and the climate.

You know you are responsible for the catastrophic damage caused to all by your overzealous expansion drive. Save your money by not hiring consultants to try and spin you out of trouble – it will never work.

It just makes the industry look foolish and is fast becoming a public relations disaster in the making for the palm oil industry. The truth will always win out in the end.

It will be much cheaper if the industry were to simply change its operating methods, and engage with commitment and sincerity those who simply want to save the environment for future generations to benefit from and enjoy. Now, that’s not a lot to ask is it?