Reading news reports on palm oil seeded by green groups can be a disconcerting affair. Screaming headlines like “Mark fights palm oil’s eco-terrorism with camera in hand” or even innocuous sounding ones like “What is palm oil?" all have the the same end in mind, tarring palm oil with the same brush!
We now know following the publication of Italian civil libertarian group, Libertiamo’s report ““Taxpayer Funding, NGO Collusion and Manufactured Crises: A Case Study of Malaysia and Palm Oil,” that the Environmental Directorate of the EU Commission (EC) is actively funding surrogate green groups like the Rainforest Action Network to the tune of millions of Euros to carry out anti-palm oil campaigns ostensibly to contribute to conservation awareness in developing countries. In reality, the EC whose hands are tied by WTO Rules from engaging in protectionist policies have sought by way of these insidious programs to erect artificial trade barriers against palm oil, to prop up the EU’s indigenous edible oilseed industries which are hapless in facing the market onslaught of the hyper yielding palm oil.
These campaigns are launched across vast geographical regions to create the impression that these are unplanned, popular and spontaneous. A broad range of green NGOs – and even zoos, Girl Scouts (or rather the adults behind them) and politicians from across the globe – are recruited to the cause.
Libertiamo points out that the EC is fully aware that the campaigns are built on “manufactured” and false evidence!
Take the first story “Mark fights palm oil’s eco-terrorism with camera in hand”. In this story written by Nicole Fuge of Noosa News, a regional newspaper in Australia, the writer described that Mark encountered in Sumatra “a horrific scene of palm oil and rubber tree plantations overtaking more than 80% of the jungle!”
There can be little doubt that the above story is short on facts but long on well-presented hot air. A comprehensive scientific mapping of Sumatra and Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) forest cover loss for 2000–2008 by a research team from South Dakota State University using multi-resolution remote sensing data from the Landsat enhanced thematic mapper plus (ETM+) and moderate resolution imaging pectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors and analyzed annual trends per island, province, and ofﬁcial land allocation zone, the total forest cover loss for Sumatera and Kalimantan 2000–2008 was established at 5.39 Mha, which represents 5.3% of the land area and 9.2% of the year 2000 forest cover of these two islands.
The researchers too pointed out that since 2005 forest cover loss in Sumatera had DECREASED. These figures are not plucked from the air as environmentalists are won't to do but cold hard scientific mapping backed by NASA and using sophisticated multi-resolution remote sensing equipment. These data were painstakingly collected by research scientists; not some pseudo-environmentalist standing in the jungles of Sumatra with his finger in the wind and estimating that forest cover loss is 80% or whatever dramatic figure he can think of to feed to media that are simply too trusting or too lazy to verify the facts!
If we look at the story, “What is palm oil and why the controversy?” published by SBS News Australia, WWF Australia was quoted as estimating that “around 300 football fields worth of forest are cleared every hour to make way for palm oil production!”
If the media is not wary of “facts” cited by green groups, they should be by now! The FAO has found that the rate of forest change in Malaysia declined from 0.66% in the years 2000-2005 to 0.42% in the years 2005-2010 (FAO Global Forest Resource Assessment 2010), certainly not the apocalyptic picture of massive deforestation that these EC surrogates and apologists attempt to paint.
Is it not time for the media to dial back a little on the hype on palm oil? THE END