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Palm oil, Robocop and the sad saga of Detroit

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Written By Olivia Williamson
Friday, 26 July 2013

The script for Robocop, a hi-tech story of decline, had a note doodled on top of the first page. It read: “The future left Detroit behind!”
 
As screenwriter Ed Neumeirer recalls, it had been a prescient message. That statement has never been more relevant to the American city, after it filed the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history earlier this month with debts around $18 billion. Neumeier notes that Robocop was, and still is, a metaphor "to show the economic decline in America." He said: "The reason Detroit is crucial is actually because it's facing a commercial blight you can imagine happening in lots of places." 
 
The cradle of auto production in the 1950s and home to the likes of Ford and GM, Detroit was once considered the engine of the American economy. But production saw a pointed decline in the 1980s when Japan appeared as a worldwide finance heavyweight and its automakers started to provide cruel competition. Decades of stagnation ended in an $80 billion US government rescue for the auto industry between 2008-2010. Today, Detroit is a shadow of the commercial boomtown it once was. In 2012, Forbes named it the most perilous US town and the most unhappy for 2013.
 
If we examine the causes of Detroit’s meltdown, the reasons are obvious. Decades of decay and denial with corrupt politicians using Asia as the convenient scapegoat for all the ills facing the city’s auto industry’s decline.
 
A parallel can be drawn with how the EU is dealing with the onslaught of palm oil into EU markets. Rather than celebrate the fact that the ultra- yielding palm oil could be the panacea to the ills facing EU industry with a source of cheap oil, the European Commission (EC) elected to assemble a rat pack in their Environment Directorate to bring a halt to the growth of palm oil.
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More Vile Attempts to Erect Palm Oil Trade Barriers in Europe

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Written By Simon Williams
Friday, 19 July 2013

There have been many historical recounts of underdogs triumphing over giants and these stories now largely serve as motivation for all who face a seemingly hopeless situation. From the biblical times there is of course the story of David and Goliath, a classic story of how the little guy can stand up to the big bully and come out on top.
 
In more recent times there is the story of the palm oil industry taking on the might of several established Non-Governmental Groups and their unscrupulous donor governments. Taking on the might of the European Commission and NGOs such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund, and the Rainforest Action Network is no easy feat, especially for a product that is grown in countries with very limited media resources in the developing world.
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