Palm oil, the Malaysian tiger on the attack


Our account on Twetter, @ItalyFoodTrade, has been the target of systematic attacks by a variety of accounts traceable to the Malaysian Palm Oil Council for several months now. Even the ‘Children of Kosovo’ – who also, at least hopefully (!), do not figure among the Malaysian contract palm growers – accuse us of propagating false information on the subject matter of our petitionà/stop-all-olio-di-palma. In the face of repeated reminders, it is then worth expressing our views.

Back in 2012, the ‘Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global’ (GPFG) withdrew investments from 7 Malaysian agro-industrial groups (1) precisely because of the unacceptable unsustainability of operations related to palm oil production.

On closer inspection, Malaysian operators-unhappy with deforestation at home, estimated at 6 million hectares for palm monocultures alone-appear to have reached pole position in the race for land, so-called land grabbing, alongside the United States of America.

About the rights of indigenous peoples, on December 4, 2014, the EU delegation to Malaysia denounced the serious problems caused to local communities. “Issues of violence and brutality, continuing assimilation policies, dispossession of land, marginalization, forced removal or relocation, denial of land rights, impacts of large-scale development, abuses by military forces and a host of other abuses are reported. The European Union considers that discrimination on grounds such as racial and ethnic origin is incompatible with the basic principles on which the European Union is founded.”

The violent land robbery in Malaysia-with the use of military forces-was precisely associated with palm production, by the European delegation. Who therefore urged the local government to effectively implement the ‘United Nation Declaration on The Rights of Indigenous People’ (2).

But there is more. Malaysian investments for the ‘palm oil business’ have been recorded in the Philippines (3), as in Papua New Guinea (4). Alerts on deforestation, which is monitored by satellite but cannot be remedied, are steadily increasing, +30% last year. And the inhabitants, lacking written title to the lands, have no means to object. In West Papua the ecocide is proceeding, and under the guise of ethnic conflicts the local government maintains the blackout.

Malaysian giant KLK (Kuala Lumpur Kepong)-supplier to ‘mega-trader’ Cargill, as well as Unilever (5) and Procter & Gamble (6), among others-is itself accused of land robbery in conflict areas and child labor exploitation, in the report “Conflict Palm Oil in Practice: Exposing KLK’s Role in Rainforest Destruction, Land Grabbing and Child Labor” (7). In Papua and Indonesia, as well as in Liberia.

‘Global Witness’ (8) exposed document fraud underlying a permit to raze 40,0000 hectares of land, as well as child labor and deplorable working conditions on palm plantations in Papua.

In Africa, Malaysian palm operations are recorded in Congo (9), Nigeria (10), Guinea (11), Ethiopia (12), and Liberia (13).

But global demand for palm
seems unstoppable, so the Malaysian giants reach as far as Peru (14), and do not hesitate to ‘convert to mono-crops’ any ‘suitable’ area-including nature reserves-to water their refineries (15).

In our own small way, we simply collect news that comes from a variety of sources to raise awareness of the socio-environmental risks of palm production among the general public. And to pursue our petition to reduce and possibly stop the use of palm in the food supply chain. At least until all palm producers commit to a moratorium on new plantings, allow for clarity on the phenomena described above and any investments made to date, restore the rights of affected populations, and propose appropriate initiatives to repair the damage done to ecosystems to date.

Dario Dongo

-> To sign the petition, double-click on the word ‘petition’, atà/stop-all-olio-di-palma


(1) Berjaya Corp Bhd, Boustead Holdings Bhd, Genting Plantations, Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd, Ta Ann Holdings Bhd, United Plantations Bhd, WTK Holdings Bhd, Cf.

(2) UNDRIP, Articles 25 and 26. See,,,

(3) Philippines, cf.,,

(4) Papua New Guinea. Malaysian group Sime Darby reportedly reached one million hectares under palm cultivation in March 2015 with the acquisition of ‘New Britain Palm Oil Company,’ based precisely in Papua. Cf.,

(5) Unilever. In the galaxy of its brands, at, we highlight:

– Magnum, Algida, Carte d’Or, Ben & Jerry’s ice creams,

– Knorr, Calvè and Flora food products, Fruttare,

– Dove shampoo soaps and cosmetics, Badedas, Lux, Rexona, Impulse, Fissan Baby

(6) Procter& Gamble. Perhaps the best known brands globally are Pamper’s, Gillette and Oral B, Olay Pantene and Wella. Further insights at

(7) The report was published by the ‘Rainforest Action Network’ in 2014. Cf.

(8) Report published in December 2014. See /papua-new-guinea-must-not-renew-license-deforest-due-legal-irregularities-social-and,

(9) Congo, see,,

(10) Nigeria, cf.

(11) Guinea, cf.

(12) Ethiopia,

(13) Liberia,,

(14) Peru, cf.

(15) See ,

-> Video at—Biosphere-Reserve

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.