Palm oil, Barilla’s reassurances elude Report

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Milena Gabanelli, in one of her latest episodes, featured an interesting report on palm oil by Sabrina Giannini. While being informed of the petition launched by Great Italian Food Trade together with the Food Fact-which in just a few months gathered more than 140,000 endorsements, and the subsequent commitment of leading industrial and distribution groups to exclude such fat from their products-the author of Report refrained from telling her viewers about it.

We were a little sorry for this omission. This is not to boast that we were among the first, in 2010, to expose the vicious cycle between land robbery (land grabbing ), deforestation and intensive palm monoculture. Rather, for having spent five years studying this phenomenon and trying to raising awareness among global consumAtors, in the sincere belief that the broader the sharing the closer the solution to one of the most serious threats to the present and future of people in developing countries.

Among other things, we provided a recent update on the social and environmental tragedy that is still unfolding at the planetary level, proposing that serious thought be given to the issue of food sovereignty at Expo. A topic that deserves consideration and political activation now more than ever, given also the current crisis of landless migrants.

Milena Gabanelli reported informal statements from some large industrial groups that they would be working to replace palm with other fats. Words not accompanied by concrete commitments nor followed-as one might have hoped-by official press releases. Instead, it escaped the search of the excellent journalist, whom we have been following for many years with great esteem, the March 2015 written communication with which Barilla tried to reassure its large Customers about the substantial harmlessness of palm, for the health of consumers as well as for the environment. Again predictably neglecting the issue of land robbery.

We add this small piece by attaching the document we have informally received, calling on the large industrial groups sitting at the so-called ‘Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil’ (RSPO) table to stop hiding behind false proclamations and half-truths, and instead to engage in a transparent debate where they involve the main international organizations that have been engaged in denouncing and opposing land-grabbing and ecocide in recent years. Starting with Grain, La Via Campesina, The Oakland Institute, Land Matrix, and others. Under the banner of a new paradigm, Contributing to Shared Values (CVS).

Please, and by rights, thank you.

(Dario Dongo)