Palm oil, unsustainable lies and political connivance

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The lies about the supposed

sustainability of palm oil
Have reached the peak. It is time to pull the sums and put them on display, along with the connivances between the

lobby


of palmocrats
and politics, in Europe and Italy. The curtain rises.

Palm oil, human and environmental rights

Land-grabbing,
land-grabbing,
is the first operation needed by the neo-colonialists to liberate huge tracts of land from indigenous communities. Its first cause, globally, is the lust for oil palm cultivation. Violence and threats, forced deportations, devastation of villages, holy places and cemeteries. Regardless of the rights of families often without title, although anchored for generations on those lands and their ecosystems.

Devastation of rainforests and biodiversity is the next step. Fires, felling of old trees, detour of waterways to serve oil palm monocultures. In fact, unlike other oilseed plants, palms require a tropical climate. And that is why 29 million hectares of forests are destroyed every year. An area equal to 60 soccer fields is razed every minute. (1)

The climate goes crazy. Global deforestation emits more greenhouse gases each year than the entire European Union. Indonesia

– which together with



Malaysia expresses nearly 90 percent of global oil palm cultivation – has become the third-largest country in the world for



emissions

of greenhouse gases. These last for 7-8 decades, in amounts up to 200 times greater than those caused by fires in other forest areas.

Human health is under serious threat, first and foremost, from air pollution in Southeast Asia caused by forest and peatland fires. Respiratory disorders, heart and lung disease, abortions. In 2015, 100,300 premature deaths from respiratory diseases were recorded in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore in just three months. The land, water and food are then contaminated by pesticides that are used very widely to destroy all life other than palm plants.

Working conditions in plantations cause additional health hazards to workers and their families. Because of the exposure of everyone, including children, to neurotoxic, carcinogenic and genotoxic pesticides that are still produced in Europe but have been banned in the West for years. In the absence, it goes without saying, of adequate protections. (2) Child exploitation and slavery then remain beyond control, if even serving ‘certified’ RSPO palmocrats.

The impact on traditional communities and their economies, as well as on the environment, is equally deadly. Burning are the livelihoods of about 1.6 billion individuals. Forests-aside from being an essential source of food-are also home to 80 percent of global biodiversity. Endangered flora and fauna.

More than 100,000 orangutans-a number equal to the entire population of cities such as Bolzano, Udine, Novara, Cesena, Ancona, and Lecce-have been slaughtered in Borneo alone in the past 16 years.

In New Guinea – heritage of biodiversity, with 20,000 plant species and 700 types of trees, 2,000 different birds flying over the archipelago’s 600 islands-only 5 percent of the natural forests have survived the savage deforestation perpetrated in recent decades. (3)

However, demand for palm oil continues to grow, for ‘biofuels’ and in various other areas, from cosmetics to household products. Despite the gradual establishment of a European front against the use of this tropical fat in food.

RSPO,
greenwashing
and horrors

‘Sustainable certification’ is a historical fake. The sustainability of palm oil, theorized by large producers in agreement with multinational corporations that adhere to RSPO (
Roundtable
for Sustainable Palm Oil
production
), is indeed belied by the facts.

More than one million hectares of crops-equal to the size of the entire Abruzzo region-escapes the claims of the top 50 palm oil producers registered with RSPO. As demonstrated by ‘Zoological Society of London‘, in his report ‘


Hidden lands, hidden









risks






(2017).

Child exploitation and slavery – in crops traceable to Wilmar, one of the founders of RSPO – are documented by Amnesty International In the report ‘‘The great palm oil scandal’ (2017). As well as from RAN (Rainforest Action Network), which shed light on PepsiCo partner Indofood and its horrors. Destruction of ecosystems, blind exploitation of workers even children, exposed to toxic chemicals. (4)

Fires and deforestation continue, to make way for monocultures. Greenpeace showed how more than 4 thousand hectares of rainforest (an area equivalent to half of Paris) were destroyed in Papua in less than two years (May 2015-April 2017). Where deforestation continues, by the usual suppliers of


Big Food




.

The leader global in the palm oil trade, Wilmar International – an RSPO member since 2005 and a supplier of Big Food (Ferrero included) – is also champion in the greenwashing. Greenpeace showed how human and environmental rights abominations were simply ‘transferred’ to sister company Gama, owned by the same families. By disposing of at least 21,500 hectares of rainforest or peatland (an area twice the size of Paris), which has since been destroyed.

10 palmocrats only, with the support of related corporate entities and opaque ownership structures, are responsible for 75 percent of all deforestation in Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. (5) RSPO certification is therefore confirmed to be a colossal operation of greenwashing. And the organization, instead of updating the scheme with more stringent requirements and ensuring the effectiveness of controls, introduced a second certification scheme in 2016. A protocol, ‘‘RSPO Next’, to which only one producer, in Colombia, joins today. Yet another mockery of global consumAtors.

Complaints filed by indigenous communities against various RSPO members are buried, dispersed in a cumbersome system that does not seem to lead to any solution. Public and private militias in the service of the palmocrats, conversely, do not hesitate to bloodily suppress the resistance of peasants who persist in protecting the land being robbed. As happened in December 2017 in Cambodia, on land acquired by the aforementioned Wilmar International.

The murders of activists in agribusiness have meanwhile surpassed even the mining industry. 197 killings, in 2017, among land and environmental defenders (NGO data Global Witness). 312 human rights defenders killed in a single year. But the palmocrats seem to be allowed anything. According to Olam International, another RSPO member, ”
Obtaining high-yielding plantations requires an appropriate initial base
‘ e ‘
non-forested land is not enough to initiate such development’.
We must therefore continue the robbery and devastation of forests, at any cost.

Crime and connivance, industry and politics in Europe




The Paris Agreement




on climate change affirms the need to halt the




deforestation




to limit climate change


, and Europe since 2008 has pledged to halt forest loss by 2030 and halve it by 2020. But so far neither political institutions nor industries with headquarters in the EU have taken any concrete steps forward.

The European Parliament, it should be recalled, has instead extended the phase-out of palm oil from biofuels by ten years-to 2030. MEPs who are supposed to represent the citizens of the old continent have thus decided to favor the interests of an Asian plutocracy that carries out international crimes against humanity and ecocide in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The complicity of European politicians is manifest where one considers that the maximum levels of palm imports for the following years are referred not to the current quotas but to those that will be reached in 2019, after further uncontrolled slaughter.

The European Commission is also set to conclude negotiations on a partnership agreement with Indonesia that could lower duties on palm oil imports. And as the Juncker Commission aspires to finalize the agreement before the end of its term, it is realistic to expect a further increase in imports for biodiesel use in 2019 that will affect the allowable quotas by 2030.

Italian politicians from the PD-FI area after all, they have repeatedly sworn allegiance to the palmocrats. Former ministers Gian Luca Galletti (Environment) and Andrea Olivero (Agriculture, vice) had ‘raved’, respectively, in favor of RSPO certification and


Against the demonization of palm






. (6) In contrast, forzitalics Alberto Cirio and Fulvio Martusciello distinguished themselves in Strasbourg for their clumsy attempt to ban the indication ‘



without palm oil










on food labels.

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) According to data from the European Commission (2013), 40 percent of global deforestation is to be attributed to the conversion of land to oil palm monocultures. Half of illegally logged areas are used to feed European demand for tropical fat alone

(2) See survey by RAN, OPPUK, ILR (2015).

(3) Center for International Forestry research data.

(4) RAN, report ‘The human cost of conflict palm oil revisited’, 2017



(5) SEE CRR (




Chain Reaction


Research), report ‘Shadow companies present palm oil investor risks and undermine NDPE efforts‘ (2018), on https://chainreactionresearch.com/report/shadow-companies-present-palm-oil-investor-risks-and-undermine-ndpe-efforts/

(6) Cf. http://www.ansa.it/canale_terraegusto/notizie/postit/Ferrero/2016/10/27/alimentare-olivero-no-a-terrorismo-della-disinformazione_b9cca485-e5a2-4b81-95e7-b874a56caf60.html, http://www.repubblica.it/economia/2016/10/27/news/la_nutelle_difende_l_olio_di_palma_e_il_ministero_dell_agricoltura_la_appoggia-150697103/, https://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/premium/articoli/il-viceministro-spalmabile-crociato-dellolio-di-palma/,