Here is the fascinating story of how WWF profiteered from palm oil and orang-utans (Pongo pygmaeus). First, they targeted palm oil on the basis of 3 wholly wild and unsubstantiated scientific grounds. While palm oil is a highly efficient crop, surging production over the past 20 years has spurred strong backlash from environmentalists who argued that the expansion consumed vast areas of rainforest in Malaysia and Indonesia, triggering massive greenhouse gas emissions and putting endangered wildlife—including orangutans, pygmy elephants, Sumatran rhinos and tigers—at risk.
Together with other international NGOs, WWF founded the Round Table for Sustainable Palm oil (RSPO). Not that RSPO itself been scandal free. Mongabay reports:
“The [RSPO] has been battered over the past year with revelations that some members have continued to destroy ecologically sensitive habitats. Prominent members, including Unilever and Nestle, have had to act outside the RSPO process to address misconduct by RSPO-member suppliers."
Another RSPO Member IOI Group, while it has some RSPO-certified plantations, the same company has others that are the source of major social conflict. Or for that matter - biscuits that girl scouts sold to raise funds for WFF by walking door-to-door were manufactured by RSPO manufacturers who found WWF fundraising a lucrative marketing technique to sell their products.
But RSPO nevertheless was emerging as a serious business entity with daily production of Crude Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) surpassing 5,000 metric tons per day. Since late 2008 more than 2.2 million tons of certified palm oil and 600,000 tons of certified palm kernels have been produced. About 600,000 tons of CSPO and kernels has been sold—mostly in Europe—so far in 2010.
Global palm oil consumption stands at nearly 50 million tons per year, about half of which is traded internationally. It is used widely in processed foods, cosmetics, and soaps — WWF estimates that palm oil is found in roughly half of packaged supermarket products. It is also increasingly used as a biofuel.
These figures apparently made WWF's mouth salivate for the all the whopping profits that could be made if they grabbed the CSPO market. So driven by their gargantuan and enormous appetite for funds, they attempted to make RSPO redundant. So they engineered the tabling of a Bill in the European and Australian Parliaments seeking for palm oil to be mandatorily labelled instead of being included under the vegetable oils category as is customarily used for labeling all vegetable oils used in food products.
In the original version of the Bill which was submitted to the Australian Senate, certified sustainable palm oil was required to be labelled separately even when RSPO certified palm oil is used in food products sold in Australia. Although the term referred in the Bill is to provide for “right of consumers to know to enable them to make an informed choice”, the intention was to encourage the use of its certified sustainable palm oil while normal palm oil would be painted negatively in consumer perceptions through the foreign funded NGOs anti palm oil campaigns.
WWF, who led the campaign, was reportedly the only RSPO member who supported the Bill at the Australian Senate Committee hearing even when RSPO was co-founded by other international NGOs such as Greenpeace; Friends of the Environment, Oxfam etc. WWF’s strategic intent was to grab exclusive control of the palm oil supply chain through its certified palm oil as and when it is mandated as the sole form acceptable for use in either Australia or the EU. And in doing so, WWF displayed a clear conflict of interest in their advocacy programme, demonstrating intent to profit from it.
Moreover, WWF is fully aware that the EU and Australian Parliament will reject specific endorsement of its certified palm oil. Moreover the European Parliament has already rejected the bill and it is now only in Australian Senate which is currently debating it. Nonetheless, WWF benefited from the heightened publicity as this helped to steer public interest to donate funds to save the orang-utan through advertising campaigns carried out on Australian TV.
“You can adopt Koyah, a young male orang-utan, who lives in the Segama Forest Reserve in eastern Sabah, Borneo.”
That's the starting line of one of WWF’s fundraising advertisements soliciting donations. As almost 100% of palm oil imports by Australia come from Malaysia, it is only logical that the funds WWF collect in Australia is deployed for conservation activities of the orang-utan in Malaysia more so as this is what the impression WWF gives the public in their advertisements, soliciting donations.
The Malaysian palm oil industry has shown a commitment by offering a matching grant should funds be directed to orang-utan conservation projects under the Malaysian Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund (MPOWCF). And yet, neither did WWF take up the offer nor a single dollar spent in orang-utan conservation in Malaysia. MPOWCF confirms not a single dollar of WWF’s raised funds benefited any orang-utans in Malaysia. Clearly, WWF appears taking public donors for a ride by misrepresenting the end use of their donations through their advertising claims.
According to IUCN:
“Although some major populations are found within the network of protected areas existing in Borneo, it is now well established that the vast majority of Bornean orangutans live outside protected forests.”
If so, deforestation is just a bogey to impose unfair trade practices by the West on SE Asian countries involved with palm oil production.Even if deforestation is genuinely an issue of concern for the so called “Green” NGOs, then Australia would be logically the more appropriate place to focus than either Malaysia or Indonesia. Australia, with a smaller population was deforesting (over half million hectares per year between 2000 and 2010) at rate that is 5 times higher than that by Malaysia; forest to total land ratio in Malaysia is 56 % compared to 17% for Australia; and agricultural land to forest area ratio for Malaysia is 1 to 3 whereas it is 3 to 1 for Australia despite its smaller population. There are many Australian animals that are already extinct or endangered and many more Australian agricultural products that they can target to be mandatorily labelled to support “consumers’ right to know”.So why don’t the WWF, Oxfam, Greenpeace and their likes target Australia than a developing economy such as Malaysia or Indonesia? All have full-fledged offices in Australia and they do nothing of the sort that they do in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. The reasons have nothing to do with conservation but entirely political. It smacks of racism for first things. Climate change and environmentalism have been hijacked as new eco-imperialistic tools. If you work for NGOs like these and possess developing country citizenship, now you know the reason why locals perceive you as Western government stooges!Meanwhile, WWF re-started their fundraising campaign a couple of weeks ago and also included in its declaration of intent, their plans for conducting Orang-utan eco-tours that can provide recurring revenue for themselves!!We re-post extracts from three articles that gives thread of the arguments used in this post.
(Courtesy: Palm Oil Truth Foundation. com)
Often called many things, the WWF has earned many unflattering epithets, mostly having to do with their voracious appetite for funds.WWF which had been a founder member of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm oil (RSPO) which had been set up to encourage sustainable planting practices of palm oil. Admittedly still a work in progress, the RSPO was warmly embraced by palm oil planters who eagerly signed up to its noble objectives. Members today include food manufacturers, commodity traders, retailers, and other environmental groups.Rather than giving the RSPO a chance to work, it appears that the WWF could not wait to feed its gargantuan and enormous appetite for funds. A look at the annual accounts of WWF in the USA alone for the year ending June 2009, shows this environmental giant has total assets of US$227 Million! Its President and CEO, Carter S Roberts draws an impressive annual emolument of $465,427 which translates to a monthly pay package of close to $40,000! Its annual revenue alone totals 151.5 million dollars. Yet this environmental mammoth can contrive to run up a deficit of $31,343,554!Using the Zoos Australia and the EU Zoo’s Association network, the WWF launched simultaneous campaigns for the mandatory labeling of palm oil in Australia and Europe. Whether by choice or chance, 2 parliamentarians, Nick Xenophon in Australia and Ness Childers in the EU were roped in to introduce mandatory palm oil labeling legislation, both strangely and coincidentally moved to give “consumers the right to know”. It must be pointed out here that the WWF is not concerned that olive oil, sunflower oil and rapeseed oil which is responsible for close to 10 times more deforestation than palm oil are labelled as a “vegetable oil” and consumers do not necessarily have a “right to know”What let the cat out of the bag of their true motives in pushing for and supporting the palm oil labelling bill is the strange simultaneous appearance of a massive ad campaign on Australian TV and other media of ads placed by the WWF soliciting donations from the Australian public to stop the deforestation by palm oil and to save the orang utans. Says the CEO of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, Tan Sri Dr Yusof Basiron:
“The money collected for the orang-utans conservation does not reach the orang utans in Malaysia. We offer a matching grant if such funds are directed to conservation projects on the orang utans under the Malaysian Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund (MPOWCF) provisions and thus we know who are actively sponsoring orang-utans projects in Sabah and Sarawak.”
So the question that has to be asked is where does the money collected by the WWF to save the orangutan in Malaysia and Indonesia go? It is not too difficult to guess as to the true destination of such funds. In the view of the Palm Oil Truth Foundation, in reality, these hard earned funds donated by the gullible public are utilized in the following manner.
First a significant portion of the funds raised goes to fund- raising expenses itself, such as marketing expenses and the cost of ads. A large proportion is then directed towards “administrative expenses” which are then used to fund the lavish lifestyles of the WWF’s office bearers. Big fat salaries and non cash incentives such as credit cards and entertainment expense accounts, business class air travel, country club memberships, lavish rented premises both for its offices and residential abodes for its office bearers and chauffeured driven limos for its executives! Labelling themselves a not-for-profit only means that the WWF does not pay taxes. However, that does not stop the office bearers from enjoying the perks of their office in such a manner that would put many Fortune 500 listed corporation executives to shame!
(Courtesy: All Voices. com)
Alarm bells must be ringing too for all the fund raising schemes introduced by certain “civil society” and “environmental” groups and even zoos and their equally questionable palm oil campaigns. These schemes read like a veritable playbook and modus operandi of these groups in targeting probably the most inherently sustainable of oilseeds.What is particularly baffling and galling for the palm oil industry is that these groups target palm oil on the basis of 3 wholly wild and unsubstantiated grounds; that palm oil is unhealthy, that palm oil is responsible for massive deforestation and consequently the commodity threatens the extinction of biodiversity such as the orangutan. However, it appears that the stratagem has had an effect especially on multinational corporations like Nestle, Unilever and Cadbury who easily succumb to the greenmail of these groups.So well crafted was the message and concerted nature of the accusations against palm oil made by these seemingly disparate but obviously well planned and coordinated coalition of green groups, that the international media which is usually so fond of investigative reporting against the likes of Ghadafi, Sadam Hussein and other third world dictators chose not to investigate their claims against this innocent third world crop, but electing instead to publish verbatim the lie-a-minute press releases of these groups.The clue to the real intentions of these groups is the strange appearance of massive PR and ad campaigns launched by these groups to coincide with their palm oil campaigns. The proof that they have more than social activism on their minds are the crass ads launched over Australian TV by the WWF soliciting funds and donations to “save the orangutan” from the devastation supposedly wrought by palm oil. From the frequency and intensity of the TV ad campaign, palm oil bashing must be a really lucrative business for the WWF!The WWF also ran ads in the Economist Magazine where they naturally appealed for donations to help fund their activities. In the ad, WWF inserted a bottle of “100% Unsustainable Palm Oil” in which the ingredients contained “the homes of the endangered orangutans, millions of hectares of natural forests, hundreds of forest fires, greenhouse gas emissions and countless land disputes involving indigenous people’s property,” an unmasking of their real intentions and adding to the cacophony of extremist viewpoints that seek to embellish the facts in order to line their pockets.An examination of the facts, if the international would take the trouble to do would show very quickly that the allegations do not have any merit.On the claim by these scammers that palm oil is largely saturated fat and therefore unhealthy, much scientific studies have shown that palm oil is, in fact heart friendly as the saturated fatty acids in the sn-1 and -3 position (typically found in palm oil) has very different biological consequences than animal fats such as lard and milk fats as the saturated fats are primarily found in the sn-2 position! (Vide: Donald J. McNamara, PhD: “Palm Oil and Heart Health: A case of Manipulated Perception and Misuse of Science” 240S Vol 29 No. 3(s) Journal of the American College of Nutrition)
Palm oil is also the richest source of the heart friendly anti-oxidant tocotrienol, a superior form of Vitamin E as well as other heart friendly phyto-nutrients such as Co Enzyme Q10, betacarotenes and other polyphenols.
As for the oft repeated allegation of massive deforestation which is threatening the existence of the orangutan, it should be pointed out that natural palm oil, by and of itself is already the most sustainable edible oil around. Consider this fact. Palm oil is grown on only 0.23% of the world's agricultural land and yet produces a staggering 30% of the world's supply of edible oil.
This fact alone should clue in objective observers as to the real reasons behind the baffling anti-palm oil campaigns against this hyper productive commodity!A quick look at the Melbourne Zoo’s “Don’t Palm Us Off” palm oil denigration campaign shows that it has been no less lucrative. It would surely delight the zoo especially its Director of Conservation, Rachel Lowry, when Orange Power announced recently a donation of 150,000 Australian Dollars to the zoo to “help Zoos Victoria fund conservation campaigns such as ‘Don’t Palm us Off’, which is calling for mandatory labeling of palm oil used as an ingredient in manufactured consumer products.”
So the donation was not to help maintain the orangutans but to “help Zoos Victoria fund conservation campaigns such as ‘Don’t Palm us Off’, which is calling for mandatory labelling of palm oil used as an ingredient in manufactured consumer products.”
Truth be told, if the real intention of the Melbourne Zoo is to help conservation programs there are only 2 actions that the zoo should take which is truly credible. One is to release all captive animals kept in the zoo, especially the poor orangutans back into the wild! The other is to reject the donation or divert it to Malaysia to set up a real honest to goodness orangutan conservation program. After all, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council is providing a dollar for dollar matching grant for genuine wildlife conservation programs, especially orangutan conservation programs!
However, the sneaky suspicion that Deforestation Watch has is that this is the last thing on the mind of the Melbourne Zoo’s Director of Conservation for the $150,000 donation is exactly the kind of kaching moment that the “Don’t Palm Us Off” campaign was designed to elicit. The irreconcilable irony of animals such as the free ranging orangutans being kept in captivity in a zoo and their professed love for conservation is obviously lost on the zoo’s Director of Conservation. She could care less about orangutans or any wild animals that the Melbourne Zoo could so crassly lock away for the paying public to gawk at!Deforestation Watch calls for the Associated Press and other conscientious media organizations to launch an investigation into the WWF and the Melbourne Zoo’s palm oil campaigns and reveal how the massive sums that they raise from these campaigns are utilized. We have a sneaky suspicion that some interesting revelations would then be forthcoming!
The World Wide Fund for Nature Indonesia (WWF-Indonesia) today launched a new fundraising drive aimed at financing coordinated efforts to save the dwindling Kalimantan and Sumatran orangutan populations. The environmental organization estimates orang-utan numbers in Borneo have dropped by about 55 percent over the last 20 years, with only about 57,000 remaining in the wild today.
In Sumatra the situation is even more desperate with estimates putting the population at only 7,500. Poaching, deforestation, climate change and forest fires have all contributed to the dramatic fall in orang-utan numbers, WFF-Indonesia said today during the launch of the fundraising campaign called Sahabat Orangutan (friends of orangutans).“Through the Sahabat Orangutan program, WWF-Indonesia is opening a door to every individual who wants to indirectly support the orangutan preservation effort by giving donations,” said Linda Sukandar, the organization’s fundraising manager.Acknowledging that such financial aid is desperately needed to continue orangutan preservation programs, she said the effort has “become a very urgent need and is the only priority of WWF-Indonesia.”Donations will be used to fund research on the primates and awareness programs illustrating how important it is to preserve and build up orangutan numbers. Efforts will also be made in building cooperation among local people, authorities and private companies in order to develop orangutan ecotourism.
Read our related posts. Click Title to Read:
WWF raised hundreds of millions from their sleek campaign but “Adopted’ Orang-utans saw none of it??Polar Bear Extinction: Deconstructing the Scientific Hoax; Understanding How NGOs Milked it Dry to Reap Windfall Revenues