Greenmail

Over the past few months, the

political left in Holland has been waging a though and well organized

campaign

against palm oil. What’s palm oil, you may ask? Well, palm oil is a

basic

ingredient for a whole range of industrial goods, from soap and washing

power

to margarine and cooking oil. Palm oil is also used as a bio fuel, both

in cars

and in power stations.

 

During the early years of this

century, the environmental lobby was heavily pushing palm oil as a

relatively

clean source of energy. Partly as a result of that, global production

of palm

oil has risen so fast that the Greenpeaces of this world have now

decided to

rebrand it public enemy number one. Increased production, they claim,

goes at

the expense of the rain forest and therefore of the worldwide orang

utan

population. Well, not really of course. As I’ve pointed out before,

the problem

of the decrease in the global orang utan population dates back to the

last

quarter of the 20th century, while production of palm oil

only

really took off in the first decade of this century. Strictly speaking,

the two

phenomena are completely unrelated. But never mind.

 

As we all know, the water melons

of

the environmental movement (green on the outside, red on the inside)

aren’t too

concerned about petty things like the truth. This is about the

planet’s very

continued existence, so if they sometimes misrepresent the facts just a

little

bit, that’s just part of the game. The aim was to convince western

companies to

stop using Indonesian palm oil. And as usual, they succeeded. After

Unilever

announced towards the end of last year that it would stop its use of

Indonesian

palm oil, Nestlé did the same last month. Both have committed to using

only sustainable (read: approved by enviro-consultants), “orang utan

friendly

palm oil. To save the planet, of course.

 

That’s how we know our

multinationals: one little push by the green lobby is all it takes.

Never mind

the damage to Unilever’s reputation- or that of western

multinationals in

general.

 

Announcing months later that they

may be willing to consider actual evidence in the form of an

independent review

before re-evaluating the decision to suspend using Indonesian palm oil

doesn’t

really do wonders for their reputation either. If they’re willing to

consider

it now, why weren’t they willing to consider it before they took the

decision

to suspend the contract last December? Or is it part of their corporate

social

responsibility policy to threaten the livelihood of thousands of

farmers in an

up and coming developing economy through a sort of daisy-picking

policy: We

will suspend the policy, we won’t suspend the policy. We will suspend

the

policy, we won’t suspend the policy. To be honest, I almost

embarrassed by

their behaviour. While our multinationals are more than happy to leave

hardworking Indonesian farmers to their fate, our government asks us to

transfer billions to Greece so that the professional protesters in the

streets

of Athens can continue to look forward to retirement at the age of 53.

 

Here’s a tip for Unilever: try

growing a spine. And stop jumping to attention every time the hyperbole

merchants of the environmental movement ask you to do something.

 

Right, time for a KitKat.

Source : De Dagelijkse Standard

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