NGOs in the news (update 2a): The US Halloween $2 billion candy season and palm oil critique, new forest destruction report

Some recent articles on NGOs which are active in the palm oil sector. Newest is a controversial book on the WWF, and I'll also post up later some discussion between TFT and FSC, which might be of interest to the folk in palm oil.

5 November 2014:

Oil Palm: Not the Evil We Think It Is By Erik Meijaard  on 07:35 am Nov 04, 2014; Category Commentary, Editor's Choice, Featured, Opinion Tags: Deforestation, palm oil; "...we need environmentalists to work with producers and really find out the best cost-effective way to maximize yields with minimum social and environmental costs. Without the input from scientists and others, the industry is unlikely to significantly change. There is a role for hard-core advocacy, but there also needs to be space for effective engagement.... I am not a stooge of the oil-palm industry. And I am not trying to make oil palm look better than it is.... I simply want everyone to use fact rather than fiction and be constructive rather than destructive.... Erik Meijaard is a conservation scientist based in Jakarta. He coordinates the Borneo Futures — Science for Change research program..."

2 November 2014: The US Halloween $2 billion candy season and palm oil critique, new forest destruction report

US campaigning on palm oil is notable in the high pint of the annual candy calendar - Halloween, where US$2 billion of candy is bought. Director of Center for Food Safety's Cool Foods Campaign criticizes the RSPO and highlights four US candy makers who use organic palm (fruit) oil, and who do not use palm oil.

Trick or Treat? The Frightening Climate Costs of Halloween Candy By Diana Donlon, Director of Center for Food Safety's Cool Foods Campaign, Updated:  10/24/2014 6:59 pm EDT; "Americans will spend more than two billion dollars on candy this Halloween, making it candy's biggest holiday.
This is fun for kids, great for dentists, and downright fantastic for the Mars family. But before you head over to the store to buy this year's bowl of treats, you need to be made aware of a really scary, but not widely recognized, fact:Many Halloween candies contain palm oil, the large-scale, monoculture production of which is driving deforestation, extinction, human rights abuses, and climate change!...The major palm oil producers and consumers established the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in 2004, but this industry label doesn't even rule out the clearing of rainforests and there is nothing in the standard about limiting greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, in 2008, 256 environmental and human rights organizations from around the world rejected RSPO certification as fraudulent labeling. While the RSPO does hold promise, it has yet to live up to its potential.....To help you choose quality treats, we've listed four brands that won't trick you or mistreat the planet: Endangered Species Chocolate... donates 10% of its net profits to organizations that support species conservation, habitat preservation, and humanitarian efforts... Makers of organic peanut butter cups, Justin's..Like Endangered Species Chocolate, Justin's uses organic palm "fruit" oil grown by Agropalma.... Of course some companies opt not to use palm products at all. Equal Exchange is one such company. Their organic and fair trade chocolates are grown by small farmer cooperatives... Alter Eco uses pure coconut oil in their chocolate truffles. Alter Eco prides itself on the direct relationships they have with growers and on the transparency of its supply chain. .."

Beef, palm oil, soy, and wood products from 8 countries responsible for 1/3 of forest destruction by Jeremy Hance, October 23, 2014; "Four commodities produced in just eight countries are responsible for a third of the world's forest loss, according to a new report. Those familiar with the long-standing effort to stop deforestation won't be surprised by the commodities named: beef, palm oil, soy, and wood products (including timber and paper). Nor will they be very surprised by most of the countries: Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Papua New Guinea, Bolivia, Argentina, and Paraguay.  "The trend is clear, the drivers of deforestation have been globalized and commercialized", said co-author Martin Persson with Chalmers University of Technology....  The report, commissioned by the Center for Global Development (CGD), found that these four commodities from the eight select countries were responsible for the loss of 3.9 million hectares of forest, an area about the size of Switzerland, in just one year: 2009. Moreover, the loss of these forests emitted 1.7 gigatons of CO2 during 2009 as well...."
  • Trading Forests: Quantifying the Contribution of Global Commodity Markets to Emissions from Tropical Deforestation - Working Paper 384 10/22/14, Working Papers By Martin Persson,   Sabine Henders,  and  Thomas Kastner; CGD was founded in November 2001 by Edward Scott Jr., C. Fred Bergsten, and Nancy Birdsall. A technology entrepreneur, philanthropist, and former senior US government official, Ed Scott provided the vision and a significant financial commitment that made the creation of the Center possible.

9 October 2014:

Silence of the pandas - You've seen the programme, now read the facts! "In late June, the major German public broadcaster ARD aired a 45 minute documentary on WWF called The Pact with the Panda, in its German version.  An English language version of the programme under the title The Silence of the Pandas has since been posted online.... Here are just a few examples of misleading or inaccurate claims contained in The Pact with the Panda (there are many):
  • WWF gave its agreement to industry plans for the conversion of 9 million hectares of West Papua to palm oil plantations.
  • WWF collected money for orang-utans but had no orang-utan projects in Borneo.
  • WWF certified as sustainable a 14,500 hectare palm oil plantation where only 80 ha of forest had been preserved.
  • WWF has a partnership with Monsanto.
  • WWF has "given its blessing" to genetically modified soy...." - accessed 9 October 2014.

Greenwash Circus: Debat (1) - Huismann with WWF rep;

In a similar vein: Watch the Book Trailer for This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate By Naomi Klein - August 20th, 2014; "This Changes Everything will be in stores September 16 and is available for pre-order. For more information, tour dates, or to buy the book: Forget everything you think you know about global warming. The really inconvenient truth is that it’s not about carbon—it’s about capitalism. The convenient truth is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better. 

In her most provocative book yet, Naomi Klein tackles the most profound threat humanity has ever faced: the war our economic model is waging against life on earth..."

5 October 2014:

WWF International accused of 'selling its soul' to corporations by John Vidal, The Observer, Saturday 4 October 2014 12.44 BST; "Pandaleaks writer says conservation group has forged links with business which is using it to 'greenwash' their operations...The allegations are made in an explosive book previously barred from Britain. The Silence of the Pandas became a German bestseller in 2012 but, following a series of injunctions and court cases, it has not been published until now in English. Revised and renamed Pandaleaks, it will be out next week.... Its author, Wilfried Huismann, says the Geneva-based WWF International has received millions of dollars from its links with governments and business. Global corporations such as Coca-Cola, Shell, Monsanto, HSBC, Cargill, BP, Alcoa and Marine Harvest have all benefited from the group's green image only to carry on their businesses as usual.....Huismann argues that by setting up "round tables" of industrialists on strategic commodities such as palm oil, timber, sugar, soy, biofuels and cocoa, WWF International has become a political power that is too close to industry and in danger of becoming reliant on corporate money.....The book also argues that WWF, which was set up by Prince Philip and Prince Bernhart of the Netherlands in 1961, runs an elite club of 1,001 of the richest people in the world, whose names are not revealed. Industrialists, philanthropists and ultra-conservative, upper-class naturalists, they are said to make up an "old boys' network with influence in the corridors of global and corporate and policy-making power"....The WWF maintains that the environment can only be protected in dialogue with people involved in extractive and polluting industries. "Pandaleaks is the book of a discredited German television documentary that disregarded most of the basic norms and standards of journalism. It is not factual and does not present a representative picture of WWF," said a spokesman.... "We don't believe we 'sold our soul' at any point, but it is true that we are now much choosier about which interests we accept donations from and which interests we work with. We are in the final stages of a several year project upgrading our global transparency and accountability standards for business partnerships."The spokesman also defended the organisation's record in relation to energy companies such as Shell and on the relocation of indigenous peoples. "Globally, WWF was actively exiting relationships with fossil fuel companies more than a decade ago. Less than 10% [of income] came from corporates in 2013. For WWF International, the proportion of corporate funding was 6% in 2013. WWF still has the '1001 club', as one of a number of vehicles for donations to WWF International...."

Book info here:

Documentary film here: