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The Lies we’re told about palm oil: Part 2

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Written By Olivia Williamson
Friday, 10 May 2013


There is so much risible nonsense these days, but there’s nothing more risible than the disingenuous guff released by environmental groups on palm oil! It’s gotten so bad that when you read anything on palm oil, you should look beneath the sauce to see if it’s pasta. 

We’re moved to write these series of papers detailing the lies that are fed to the world at large by green groups and blindly regurtitated by a main stream media that is too undermanned or too lazy to investigate the roiling cauldron of blunderbuss allegations against what is probably the world’s healthiest and most sustainable oilseed crop bar none!

Last week, we wrote of how Phil Sokolof’s misguided campaign targeting tropical oils like palm oil and coconut oil in the simplistic belief that the saturated fats they contain was somehow linked to heart disease. However, Sokolof’s campaign was later discredited when tons of scientific studies later proved that palm oil was, in fact heart friendly as it is rich in medium chain triglycerides and powerful anti-oxidants like tocotrienols, co enzyme Q10 and beta carotenes. The saturated fats in palm oil were also found to be in the sn-1 and -3 position which 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!(see: 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)
We also showed how Sokolof’s campaigns served as a playbook for anti-palm oil forces who funded groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) to try to damper the edible oil market juggernaut that is palm oil.
So sadly in the mid-eighties, responding to the connection that medical authorities made between saturated fats and heart disease, CSPI and another activist organization, the National Heart Savers Association (NHSA) founded by Phil Sokolof, campaigned vigorously against corporations’ use of saturated fats, endorsing trans fats as a healthy, or healthier, alternative. 
Many contemporaneous medical authorities shared the view that trans fats were healthier than saturated fats. But endorsing trans fats as a replacement for saturated fats was hardly a shot in the dark. Growers, oil suppliers, and academic and government scientists had been working since the early twentieth century to commercialize soybeans and develop the partial-hydrogenation process, and by the 1980s partially hydrogenated soybean oil was to some extent already in use. 
Says David Schieller, Visiting Scholar in the Institute of Public Knowledge, New York University: “When activists targeted manufacturers for “poisoning America . . . by using saturated fats,” nearly all targeted firms responded by replacing saturated fats with trans fats. Oils containing trans fats were a ready solution to the emerging political problem of saturated fats, and to the technical problem of what to use in their place.”
Sadly America then was truly poisoned by the mass adoption and acceptance of trans fats by food manufatirers and the consumer alike.
However, the transition from saturated to trans fats shows how activists can be part of spurring corporations to change. Activist organizations’ effectiveness has often been explained in terms of how well they mobilize resources, make use of political and economic opportunities, and rhetorically frame their messages.
But the trans fat case shows that activists effectiveness in exerting pressure was not just a question of how well-organized they were or how well they communicated; in part, activists succeeded by framing the replacement of saturated fats as a rational course of action based on “a scientific fact”—namely, the association between saturated fats and heart disease. In doing so, these activists have helped to stabilize those claims’ status as “facts”, no matter how tenuous those claims may be! THE END…To be continued…
JumpinJackFash  11. May 2013 at 04:45 pm

Yes, I can see it now. How ironic. CSPI's campaigns against palm oil resulted it palm oil being replaced by trans fats. Talk about misguided activism!

Delinki  11. May 2013 at 05:03 pm

I've always felt that there was something fishy about CSPI's camapigns against palm oil. This confirms my suspicions!

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