I was called for jury duty recently. It meant extraordinary inconvenience and lots of lost time, but it was also serious business. During the first day’s orientation, the judge lectured us on the responsibility at hand and the important nature of the task. We were going to sit in judgment of people who either had disputes (civil court) or were charged with crimes (criminal court). I felt a great sense of inadequacy for the task at hand. Passing judgment on another person, with serious life consequences riding on the decision, is not a simple thing.
Yet I wonder how French Senator Yve Daudigny could have the conscience to propose the “Nutella Tax” Bill which sought to increase the tax levied on manufactured foods containing palm oil by 300 per cent.
Similarly, the Mandarins who walk the halls of power at the Office of the Environment Directorate of the European Commission, if they have any social conscience at all, would have great difficulty living down the craven lies and utterly ugly falsehoods that they help perpetuate by funding palm oil campaigns by green groups that they are fully aware are based on spurious manufactured and false evidence?
For one, contrary to popular opinion, 40 per cent of global palm oil supply is cultivated by smallholders, many of whom had come into palm oil cultivation by participating in government sponsored rural poverty eradication programs like the highly successful FELDA program in Malaysia. Some 2.4 million people depend on palm oil for a livelihood and it is staggering to think that their interests are given short shrift by policy makers in Europe who, fearful of the market threat posed by the rampantly high yielding palm oil against the EU’s indigenous edible oil industries, resort to taking the low road to rein in the runaway leading edible oil in the world!
For another, the trumped up charges that palm oil is largely saturated fat and thus unfriendly to heart health has been proven wrong by peer reviewed scientific studies that have shown that palm oil is, in fact heart friendly as the saturated fatty acids in the sn-1 and -3 position (typically found in palm oil) has very different biological consequences than animal fats such as lard and milk fats as the saturated fats are primarily found in the sn-2 position! (Vide: Donald J. McNamara, PhD: “Palm Oil and Heart Health: A case of Manipulated Perception and Misuse of Science” 240S Vol 29 No. 3(s) Journal of the American College of Nutrition)
It is also the richest source of the heart friendly anti-oxidant tocotrienol, as well as other heart friendly phyto-nutrients such as Co Enzyme Q10, betacarotenes and other polyphenols.
The second allegation of deforestation is clearly built on manufactured evidence, as pointed out by Italian civil libertarian group, Libertiamo which noted that these campaigns are really designed to protect the EU’s own indigenous edible oilseed crops which are otherwise unable to compete with the hyper yielding palm oil! If nothing else, this allegation flies in the face of facts for Malaysia which had erstwhile been the world's largest producer of palm oil has managed to retain 59.5 percent forest cover despite intensive cultivation of palm oil for more than a hundred years! (CIA World Factbook 2011)
Kudos then to the Social Affairs Commission of France’s National Assembly which, noting the howls of protest from French consumers, firmly rejected Senator Daudigny’s “Nutella Tax” Bill!
This may sound like the death knell for a Bill which proved about as popular as a hungry fox in a henhouse, but in our view, Senator Daudigny is unlikely to be the Last to take this low road against an upstart third world commodity that, due to its rampant high yields is unlikely to go away! The question is what form the continuing oppression against this innocent third world commodity will take? THE END