Dialogue needed to counter palm oil misinformation, research house says

Datametrics Research and Information Centre says constructive dialogue is needed urgently to counter the misinformation surrounding Malaysia’s palm oil industry. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, November 17, 2023.

CONSTRUCTIVE dialogue is needed urgently to counter the misinformation surrounding Malaysia’s palm oil industry, a research house said today.

Datametrics Research and Information Centre (DARE) said this was important in the wake of “No Palm Oil” labels appearing across local supermarkets, although such labelling are prohibited under the Trade Descriptions Act 2011 (Act 730).

DARE’s managing director Pankaj Kumar said in a statement there must be a robust and informed public dialogue on the economic and environmental impacts of palm oil production in Malaysia.

This will help challenge the arbitrary conclusions drawn against the industry, especially from Western media outfits carrying anti-palm oil lobbyists’ propaganda, he added. 

“Palm oil is a cornerstone of Malaysia’s economy, contributing close to RM138 billion to our export value last year alone.

“It’s crucial to recognise not only the economic but also sustainable advances the industry has made, despite the misleading ‘No Palm Oil’ labels that contradict our Trade Descriptions Act,” he said.

Pankaj said although such violations can lead to RM250,000 in fines or a five-year jail term, or both, these product labels keep appearing in local shelves.

“DARE believes that the misinformation surrounding palm oil carries grave consequences for Malaysian smallholders and the international market. 

“Further compounding the issue are the misleading labels, which not only violate local laws but also jeopardise an economic lifeline crucial to millions of Malaysians involved in the palm oil industry,” he said. 

He further said Malaysia has made strides in sustainable practices, as evidenced by the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification, which ensures full supply chain traceability and adherence to stringent auditing standards.

He said stakeholders and consumers must recognise the role of local certification schemes like the MSPO in supporting due diligence and risk mitigation in the palm oil supply chain. 

“The misconceptions about palm oil not only threaten Malaysia’s economy but also undermine the global efforts in promoting ethical and environmentally sound agricultural practices,” Pankaj said. 

“It is time for a collaborative and informed conversation that acknowledges the real strides made in the palm oil industry.” – November 17, 2023.

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