Malaysian palm oil lobby offers prize for essays persuading people the sector does not drive deforestation
By Megan Darby
Global demand for palm oil, an ingredient in a whole range of foods and cosmetics, is a major driver of tropical deforestation.
That is what scientific studies and green groups on the ground find. To their credit, some consumer goods companies are cracking down on forest clearance in their supply chains.
But the Malaysian Palm Oil Council would prefer to convince you it is no problem at all.
It is offering prizes worth US$15,000 for essays on the topic: “Oil palm is not the driver of deforestation.”
Another US$15,000 is up for grabs on a health theme: “Fats including palm oil consumption are no longer associated with coronary heart disease.”
Nothing to see here, then.
And the industry marketing body is quite clear that “only entries responding to the topic will be considered”.
Due to “popular and overwhelming interest”, it has extended the deadline to 30 May.
It has got David Dellatore of the Sumatran Orangutan Society riled.
He argues on the Mongabay website this is “wasteful propaganda” that diverts resources from finding solutions to deforestation.
It’s hard to disagree.
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