Written By Jeff Kennedy
Friday, 10 May 2013
Friday, 10 May 2013
There are some who are in the business of painting a bleak picture over everything in today’s world. Their actions help to give their existence some relevance, but it does not bode well for anyone unfortunate enough to become entangled in their web. We see this type of behavior in some loonies with predictions of the untimely end of the world, and we see it too in parts of the media that thrive on painting bleak pictures in their headlines and stories.
It is the same for anti-palm oil NGOs like the Rainforest Action Network who make it their life’s work to manufacture claims so that it looks like doom and gloom ahead, regardless of whether the subject is deserving of the bleakness or not. Anyone getting caught in their anti-palm oil campaign could be forgiven for thinking that if one more ton of oil palm was cultivated, all the rainforests would disappear, wiping out the orangutans, and bringing life on earth to an abrupt end.
Fortunately the real picture is much clearer than that, and we can look beyond these NGOs lies and manufactured claims to see what is really going on.
The most efficient oilseed crop in the world is palm oil, and a one hectare plantation could yield up to 10x more oil than other oilseeds such as sunflower, rapeseed, and soy. This means it can be competitively priced against other lesser yielding oilseed such as those mentioned above, and in 2011 it was the highest selling oil globally against 17 others, with worldwide consumption reaching approximately 50 million tonnes.
Despite the large numbers in worldwide consumption, oil palm only accounts for 5.3% of the global land use for cultivation against the 10 major edible oilseeds. Compare that to sunflower with a 9.4% share, rapeseed with 13%, and soybean with a whopping 40.9% claim for land cultivation.
In terms of cultivation, Malaysia is one of the biggest cultivators of oil palm, and has been so for more than 100 years. This has given many people a decent livelihood and helped to alleviate poverty in the region. Although Malaysia contributes some 12.7% of oil globally each year it still retains more than 59.5% forest coverage, most of it untouched and pristine with laws and regulation in place to ensure that it will remain that way.(CIA World Factbook 2011)
This forest coverage amounts to an area roughly the size of the whole of Tunisia, which is ample space for Malaysia’s wildlife to thrive, contrary to what the anti-palm NGOs would have you believe. Groups such as the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) bandies about the spurious claim that oil palm cultivation in this region will lead to the extinction of the orangutan!
This is sad, because proper research into this highlights that the orangutan species may actually be growing. Erik Meijaard, who is a senior ecologist for the Nature Conservancy, recently discovered that in Borneo the population of orangutan has actually risen by as much as 5%, which is a far better picture than the one painted by RAN.( http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/04/090413-new-orangutans.html)
RAN clearly thrives on painting bleak pictures of the world, even if it does not reflect the reality. In the case of the anti-palm oil campaigns their motive runs deeper than simply trying to justify their existence and as Libertiamo, the civil libertiarian group has already discovered - “Taxpayer Funding, NGO Collusion and Manufactured Crises: A Case Study of Malaysia and Palm Oil,” – they have now become paid doom and gloom message spreaders.
The problem for palm oil is that it is too competitive and other countries with their own indigenous oils to protect will do whatever they can to give themselves a competitive edge. It is just unfortunate to see these supposedly respectable NGOs sell out their principles in return for monetary gain! THE END