THE Datametrics Research & Information Centre (DARE) is urging the public to engage in a robust and informed dialogue regarding the economic and environmental impacts of palm oil production.
This call comes as ‘No Palm Oil’ labels continue to appear on supermarket shelves, despite prohibitions under the Trade Descriptions Act 2011 [Act 730]. The Trade Descriptions Act imposes penalties of up to RM250,000 in fines or a five-year jail term, or both, for violations.
However, the persistence of these labels raises concerns and prompts DARE to advocate for a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding the palm oil industry.
DARE managing director Pankaj Kumar emphasised the need to challenge arbitrary conclusions drawn against the industry, especially those stemming from Western media outlets carrying anti-palm oil lobbyists’ propaganda.
“Palm oil is a cornerstone of Malaysia’s economy, contributing close to RM138 bil to our export value last year alone,” Kumar stated.
“It’s crucial to recognise not only the economic but also the sustainable advances the industry has made, despite the misleading ‘No Palm Oil’ labels that contradict our Trade Descriptions Act.”
DARE contends that misinformation about palm oil not only jeopardises the economic livelihoods of Malaysian smallholders but also disrupts the international market. The organisation is particularly concerned about misleading labels that violate local laws and could harm an industry crucial to millions of Malaysians.
In defending the palm oil industry, DARE highlighted its global significance, noting that while palm oil occupies just 0.5% of global agricultural land used for vegetable oil cultivation, it contributes over 54% of global edible oils and fats exports.
The organisation also underscored Malaysia’s strides in sustainable practices, exemplified by the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification which guarantees full supply chain traceability and adherence to stringent auditing standards.
Furthermore, DARE is urging stakeholders and consumers to recognise the role of local certification schemes like MSPO in supporting due diligence and risk mitigation in the palm oil supply chain. The organisation is advocating for a narrative that reflects the high sustainability standards and community empowerment efforts within the industry.
“The misconceptions about palm oil not only threaten Malaysia’s economy but also undermine global efforts in promoting ethical and environmentally sound agricultural practices. It is time for a collaborative and informed conversation which acknowledges the real strides made in the palm oil industry.”
DARE emphasised that the future of palm oil depends on informed decision-making and equitable dialogue that upholds fairness, sustainability and prosperity for all involved. – Nov 17, 2023
Main photo credit: Bloomberg