SEVERAL developed countries are blacklisting palm oil products because of smear campaigns masterminded by western vested interests against the palm oil industry.
Especially targetted are oil palms cultivated in “high carbon stock” areas (primary forests, logged forests, secondary forests and forests cleared for shifting cultivation) and peat swamps.
The propagandistic assaults by certain European countries, especially France, on palm oil products have seriously affected the state’s native communities whose livelihood depends on the development of peat lands and secondary forests within their Native Customary Rights (NCR) lands.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu has likened the brazen attempts to run down the palm oil industry to “strangling the livelihood” of the rural native population.
“We must not allow such cruel bullying tactics to impoverish our native communities,” he said when launching a Malaysian Palm Oil Council seminar and dialogue in Kuching.
Indeed, any attempt to sabotage efforts to help native households achieve socio-economic progress through the development of their idle lands should be strongly resisted.
Towards this end, we have attained a measure of success as our palm oil has gained acceptance in many parts of the world despite unrelenting anti-palm-oil lobbying in Europe, spearheaded by Gallic detractors.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas has attributed the success to counter-measures taken through “strategic alliances with palm oil processors and food manufacturers to address grave misinformation about palm oil.”
“Even international brands are now using palm oil and when they were targetted, these brands continued to stand firm by their product formulations,” he said.
Although western lobbyists are continuing to speak out against the palm oil industry, their voice sounds phony and spurious to us because it smacks of blatant double standards.
Just look at the wheat and corn fields, stretching as far as the eyes can see, in some developed countries. These were once lush forests but had been flattened for cultivating subsistence and cash crops to sustain growing populations and fill government coffers. In the process, many wildlife species had been displaced or become extinct from habitat destruction. Yet, not a whimper from the lobbyists.
However, when it comes to so-called developing countries clearing their lands for agro-economic development – in much the same manner as developed countries had done before them – these self-same lobbyists waxed environmental sentinels, using fabrications and distortions to discredit the competition.
The plain truth is that western vested interests are afraid of the formidable threat palm oil poses to the production and marketting of their own edible oils such soy, rapeseed and corn.
That’s why instead of welcoming healthy competition, they have gone against the grain of free and fair trade they openly profess to practise.
Uggah has said the time is ripe for Malaysia to create a think tank to address the issue and raise the profitability of palm oil through co-operation with Indonesia in jointly countering the anti-palm- oil lobby.
In this regard, the bilateral meetings between the leaders of the world’s two main palm oil producers are positive developments in the common endeavour to counter the lies levelled at palm oil, and promote the commodity abroad, including in Europe.
Weighing in on the issue, Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing has said some European countries – through their NGOs – are using “all kinds of excuses” to put down the palm oil industry and “stop us from feeding our population,” but stressed “our economic lifestyle is not up for negotiation.”
He believed the decision of a multinational company to boycott Sarawak’s crude palm oil (CPO), harvested from oil palms planted in areas of high carbon stock and peat swamps after 2015, and to only accept CPO planted in such areas before 2005, had more to do economic rivalry than the environment since oil palm is more effective in producing oil than either soybean or sunflower seeds.
One can only logically conclude that the anti-palm-oil lobby is a western tool for economic domination. The ulterior motive is to keep the Third World economically backward so their markets can be manipulated and exploited by developed nations.
But as the Land Development Minister rightly pointed out, Sarawak will not kowtow to such economic bullying nor compromise on its efforts to eradicate poverty among the rural communities which depend heavily on the palm oil industry for their bread and butter.
Source : The Borneo Post